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Illinois Budget Deadlock Sails Through Summer As Governor Vetoes No-Strike, No-Lockout Bill

© Krantz News Service, July 30, 2015


The budget drama in Illinois continues as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has prevailed in a key battle with the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

Rauner won a clear victory on Sep. 2 in his ongoing contract dispute with the state's largest public employee union. The Democratic majority in the House failed to override his veto of legislation designed to prevent a strike or lockout if the two sides do not reach a resolution.

Observers say the dispute in Illinois could continue throughout the fall.

The deadlock has now even impacted lottery payouts of winnings over $25,000. According to Stephen Rossi, Communications Director of the Illinois Lottery, ""Due to the ongoing budget situation in Springfield, some lottery winner payments have been delayed." For now, big winners will have to be content with a state IOU and will "be paid in full as soon as the lottery and the Illinois comptroller have the legislative authority to do so."

Rauner has also placed the 138-year-old Illinois State Museum and four satellite sites on the chopping block as Illinois enters into its third month of the fiscal year without a budget.

Illinois will continue to make essential payments during the budget crisis, such as payroll, debt service on bonds, pensions, schools, child and foster care. .

The vetoed bill would have imposed binding arbitration on the dispute to prevent a lockout or strike of public employees.

The bill, SB 1229, became a focal point in the dispute after collective bargaining agreements expired at the end of June, the close of the state's fiscal year.

Rauner rejected the bill, stating in a veto message that the bill "removes every subject of labor negotiations from the bargaining process and allows unelected arbitrators to impose billions of dollars of new costs on our taxpayers."

A state workers union said the governor's action "sends a disturbing message about his commitment to reaching fair contract terms with the unions representing public service workers in state government. His veto also denies the people of Illinois the assurance that the public services they rely on will continue without disruption."

Rauner and Illinois lawmakers have been unable to agree on how to eliminate a multi-billion dollar budget deficit.

After a futile Spring Session, Legislators had returned to Springfield for a "continuous session" that began on June 9.

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