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July 25 — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) vetoed bills driven by organized labor, including a measure to strengthen prevailing wage standards and three bills designed to boost base wages for child care providers and home health workers serving the elderly and disabled.
While Rauner's criticism of organized labor and minimum wage standards has been a consistent theme throughout his administration, the first-term governor pointed to the ongoing fiscal crisis in Illinois as a basis for his vetoes July 22.
“At a time of unprecedented financial difficulty in the State of Illinois, this is [an] unaffordable piece of legislation that will create an even greater financial hole for the state and will ultimately result in cuts to—and elimination of—other important state programs,” Rauner said in a veto message voiding a bill dealing with wages paid to home health workers.
Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, charged that Rauner was much more interested in his personal political agenda than the well-being of working families. In vetoing the four measures, the governor was acting on “his mission of eroding the middle class in Illinois by making it as difficult as possible to increase the wages of working families,” Carrigan said.
Rauner took action on four bills passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature:
It was not immediately clear how the Illinois General Assembly would respond to Rauner's actions. The three bills dealing with minimum wages and training for child care and home health aids passed by wide margins, but not veto-proof majorities. S.B. 2964 governing prevailing wages received several Republican votes, moving the bill into veto-proof territory.
Rauner's amendatory veto of S.B. 2964 won applause from the business community.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce said the bill would have “eliminated the voice of local government” in determining local wage rates.
“That would have led to inflated costs for local public works projects and to a damper on local economies,” the chamber said in a statement. “The business community wants laws and policies that help Illinois become more attractive to the creation and retention of jobs in our state. Increasing project costs and the resulting increases in property taxes would not be good for the job climate.”
SEIU Healthcare Illinois criticized Rauner for declining to pay a living wage to thousands of child care and home health workers. The union had been pushing the wage bills as part of its “Invest in Illinois” legislative package.
“With the vetoes of legislation protecting child care and home health care for people with disabilities and seniors, Gov. Rauner continues the Republican war on working women, African-Americans and Latinos who depend on these programs to be in the workforce,” Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, said in a statement. “Rauner also is forcing seniors and people with disabilities into more expensive institutionalization.”
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