Out­go­ing gov­er­nor ‘scared’ for state

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Local - BY BY DOUG FINKE

Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thurs­day that he is “very scared” for Illi­nois res­i­dents since Democrats took com­plete con­trol of state govern­ment in the elec­tion three weeks ago.

In his first meet­ing with re­porters since his loss to Demo­crat J.B.

Pritzker, Rauner also com­plained that the Gen­eral

Assem­bly’s votes to over­ride two of his ve­toes could cost the state mil­lions of dol­lars in ad­di­tional costs.

Rauner met with the news me­dia in his Capi­tol of­fice af­ter the Gen­eral Assem­bly con­cluded its veto ses­sion. It is only the third pub­lic ap­pear­ance since Rauner lost the elec­tion and the first time he’s taken ques­tions from re­porters.

“I’ll say this about the elec­tion: I’m very scared for the peo­ple of Illi­nois,” Rauner said when asked why he thought vot­ers roundly re­jected his bid for a sec­ond term. “I be­lieve the folks who put Illi­nois into a fi­nan­cial quag­mire are now back in com­plete con­trol of govern­ment.”

Rauner pre­dicted that deficit spend­ing, higher taxes, over­reg­u­la­tion and “self deal­ing” will be the or­der of the day with Democrats in charge.

“The things that have got­ten us in a mess are now go­ing to dom­i­nate with no voice push­ing back,” he said.

In ad­di­tion to hold­ing all six statewide elected of­fices, Democrats also hold su­per­ma­jori­ties in both the House and Se­nate.

Rauner said Thurs­day was not the day to dis­cuss whether it was a mis­take to have made op­po­si­tion to House Speaker Michael Madi­gan, D-Chicago, a key com­po­nent of his cam­paign and that of other Re­pub­li­can can­di­dates. Rauner said sim­ply,

“We worked hard and ran the best cam­paign that we could and we did not pre­vail.”

De­spite his stated mis­giv­ings about the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, Rauner said his of­fice is “mak­ing every ef­fort to make sure the tran­si­tion is smooth and very ef­fec­tive. It’s the right thing for the peo­ple of Illi­nois.”

Pritzker’s of­fice agreed that the Rauner ad­min­is­tra­tion has been co­op­er­at­ing in mak­ing a smooth tran­si­tion of power.

Rauner com­plained that law­mak­ers have opened the state to po­ten­tially mil­lions of dol­lars in costs be­cause they voted to over­ride his ve­toes of two bills in par­tic­u­lar dur­ing the veto ses­sion.

That in­cluded a bill to raise the cap on dam­age awards in the Court of Claims for state neg­li­gence from $100,000 to $2 mil­lion.

“This is go­ing to be a mas­sive in­vi­ta­tion for law­suits,” Rauner said. “Our tax­pay­ers could be on the hook for many mil­lions, hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.”

The bill was prompted by the deaths that oc­curred at the Quincy vet­er­ans’ home from Le­gion­naire’s dis­ease. Law­mak­ers said sur­vivors of the de­ceased vet­er­ans should be en­ti­tled to more than $100,000 in dam­ages from the state.

Rauner said the bill was “falsely sold as a Quincy vet­er­ans bill” even though it will ap­ply to all law­suits filed in the Court of Claims.

“I view this as a ma­jor sop, a ma­jor give­away to the trial lawyers who are ma­jor fun­ders of many leg­is­la­tors’ cam­paigns,” he said.

Sup­port­ers of the bill said that rais­ing the cap doesn’t guar­an­tee that every claim against the state will win or that the max­i­mum amount will be awarded.

Rauner also com­plained



Gov. Bruce Rauner

about a bill that says peo­ple en­ter­ing med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties like nurs­ing homes are pre­sumed to be el­i­gi­ble for Med­i­caid ben­e­fits un­til the state de­ter­mines oth­er­wise.

“That has the like­li­hood of cost­ing tens of mil­lions and po­ten­tially hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars that can­not be re­couped,” Rauner said. “It is a huge mis­take on the part of the Gen­eral Assem­bly.”

Rauner had pro­posed changes to the bill that he said would help con­trol costs. How­ever, the House and Se­nate voted to re­ject those changes without any dis­sent­ing votes.

Law­mak­ers passed the bill in the first place be­cause the state is far be­hind in de­ter­min­ing if some­one is el­i­gi­ble for Med­i­caid as­sis­tance.

They were con­cerned that nurs­ing homes were as­sum­ing costs for pa­tients who should have been covered by Med­i­caid but weren’t be­cause the state was be­hind in its work.

Bruce Rauner

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