It may not be the first time it's ever happened, but Thursday's veto ceremony certainly was a rarity. Gov. Pat Quinn gathered about a dozen people in the Thompson Center in Chicago to veto what was once a highly touted campaign finance reform bill. The unusual part in it all was the ceremony.
It may not be the first time it's ever happened, but Thursday's veto ceremony certainly was a rarity.
Gov. Pat Quinn gathered about a dozen people in the Thompson Center in Chicago to veto what was once a highly touted campaign finance reform bill. At least it was highly touted by Quinn and state lawmakers who voted for it. Many others, including Quinn's hand-picked panel of reformers, thought the bill was a lot of bunk.
When people start referring to your reform efforts as worse than no reform at all, it's time to re-evaluate your efforts. And Quinn did, opting to veto the ethics bill and start over.
The unusual part in it all was the ceremony. Governors regularly stage signing ceremonies for certain high-profile bills. Vetoing bills is usually done quietly. The paperwork is officially filed and a statement may be attached explaining the governor's rationale for the veto. But gathering people into a room in front of the media to kill off a bill is pretty much unheard of.
Now the idea is to focus on October when the General Assembly will return for the six-day veto session, spread over two weeks. That's when true, meaningful reform will finally be passed in Illinois and state's cesspool of campaign finance will start on the road to change. We know this because the General Assembly's leaders were at Thursday's ceremonies and promised to work on it. These would be the same leaders who were in place when the reform plan that was vetoed by Quinn was developed.
One other point to consider.
Quinn didn't have to outright veto the bill. He could have used his amendatory veto powers to make changes he felt were necessary. He said he opted for the total veto because it was "cleaner." His choice was even endorsed by the good government types who want a better reform bill.
At the same time, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said negotiators were working for weeks to come up with compromise language Quinn could have put into the bill through an amendatory veto. They couldn't agree, so the decision was made to ask Quinn for a total veto.
Let's see now. Negotiators have already been working for weeks on a compromise, but failed. Still, it's all going to get resolved during a two-week veto session in October.
Anyone else skeptical?
Quinn last week pulled another one of those flip-flops for which he's becoming famous.
Despite previous statements that he would fire any University of Illinois trustee who didn't resign over the admissions furor, he backed off. One trustee threatened to sue and Quinn said that it would be better just to let it go than get the state involved in a protracted and costly court fight.
He may be correct, but then why did he spew that bravado about canning the trustees in the first place? Now he again looks indecisive, which is not a good thing for a governor.
He's playing into the hands of Comptroller Dan Hynes, who wants Quinn's job. Hynes said Quinn mismanaged the budget situation, in part because Quinn threatened severe cuts to human services and then said he wouldn't cut them. Hynes criticized Quinn for the way he handled the U of I issue, also for exhibiting wishy-washiness. Obviously, his idea is to make Quinn look incapable of doing the job of governor and Quinn is cooperating.
The theme should continue to work nicely for Hynes as long as no one tries to pin him down on exactly what he would do differently.
"Illinois state government cannot continue to deliver the same services to the same populations of children, students, and elderly with the same revenue base in the next ten years because the natural growth of revenues will fall short of the projected growth of expenditures." Further, "...the state's revenue system fails to respond adequately to changes in the economy to keep pace with expenditures. This creates the persistent gap between expenditure demands and state revenues."
This is from the executive summary of a report titled "The Illinois Structural Deficit Dilemma: The Growing Gap Between State Expectations and Revenue Realities." The authors were J. Fred Giertz, Therese McGuire and James Nowlan. It was written in 1995.
Apparently, no one read it.
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.