By Greg Bishop
Illinois News Network
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thursday that taxpayers will end up paying for the decisions of lawmakers who voted to override two of his vetoes.
In his first news conference since he lost re-election to J.B. Pritzker earlier this month, Rauner said lawmakers every year pass bad legislation.
“But this year was particularly bad and harmful to taxpayers and economic competitiveness,” Rauner said.
One bill in particular that will be horrible for taxpayers, Rauner said, is the tort cap increase from $100,000 to $2 million in Senate Bill 2481. Lawmakers overrode his veto of the bill and it’s now law.
Rauner said raising the tort cap from $100,000 to $2 million will end up costing taxpayers. The cap limits how much money people who sue the state can collect from the Court of Claims. Lawmakers voted to override Rauner’s veto of the bill, making it law.
Supporters said increasing the limit was appropriate in light of the 14 people who died after a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a veterans home in Quincy. Rauner said a bill specifically aimed at families who lost loved ones in Quincy would have been OK, but lawmakers didn’t limit the bill, instead applying it to all tort claims against the state.
“Our cap got increased 20-fold in one fell swoop and this is going to be a massive invitation for lawsuits against the state now and in the future,” Rauner said. “This will cost, even if we prevail in many of theses lawsuits on behalf of the citizens of Illinois, the cost of the increased litigation will be terrible.
“This is not a Quincy bill,” Rauner continued. “This is a broad tort cap bill. I view it as a major sop, a major giveaway to the trial lawyers who are a major funder to the legislators’ campaigns.”
Rauner also railed against House Bill 4771 about Medicaid presumptive eligibility. He said that could cost taxpayers tens, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars that can’t be recouped.
“Assume that they’re eligible for Medicaid payments, treat them in that way, be billed and reimbursed in that regard and then hope to determine later if they’re truly eligible for Medicaid,” Rauner said. “It’s fundamentally terrible policy.”
Of 83 bills the governor vetoed this year, 47 were sustained, meaning lawmakers either failed to override his veto or changes, or didn’t attempt an override at all.
“Many of the other bills that I vetoed were similarly damaging, some not quite at the same scale, but they either hurt our economic competitiveness, our ability to grow our economy and grow jobs or cost taxpayers significantly now and in the future,” Rauner said. “Unfortunately, this is the pattern that has gone on in for years in Illinois.”
Rauner said such legislation is the reason Illinois continues to be the state in the worst fiscal situation.