Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued his first veto.
Of the 47 bills the governor acted on Friday, Pritzker vetoed Senate Bill 2026, a measure to alter the process of how the state applies for certain federal waivers for various taxpayer funded programs.
“While this legislation was well intended, unfortunately it does not afford the state enough flexibility to operate these programs,” Pritzker said in his veto message to the state Senate.
The measure passed there unanimously. It passed with a veto proof majority in the House. It’s unclear if the sponsors will seek an override.
Friday’s action was the first veto of a bill from the Democrat-controlled legislature by the Democratic governor.
“I do not anticipate any circumstances in which my administration would pursue waivers to limit Illinoisans’ access to federal programs or benefits,” Pritzker said. “Nonetheless, it’s critical to retain our flexibility to innovate and be responsive to the evolving healthcare needs of the people of the state.”
State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, voted against the bill, but had a mixed reaction to the veto message.
“Great decision by the governor, bad bill, and he’s exactly right that we have to keep that flexibility,” McSweeney said. “The place that I disagree with him is that he says he’s not going to actively seek those waivers. He should be seeking those.”
McSweeney has for years urged the state to seek waivers for ways to save taxpayers money. He said the state could file waivers with the federal government to shore up eligibility for certain programs, or to find innovative ways to capture more federal tax dollars to offset the state taxpayer cost.
“Ways that we can look at improving our access to federal funding, ways to address vouchers, ways to address tightening up eligibility, that should all be on the table,” McSweeney said. “Now I want to be clear, the governor is saying none of that.”
Pritzker's veto message said, “My administration is fully committed to ensuring Illinoisans can access the full array of federal assistance for health benefits,” and “the Trump administration’s attacks on healthcare continue to create uncertainty in the health insurance marketplace.”
Pritzker campaigned on the idea of allowing the public to buy into Medicaid, but no such plan has yet to surface. Such a "public option" is a policy being promoted by several Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 election. Opponents of the idea say adding more Medicaid patients could put further stress on the system, costing taxpayers more.
Some of the bills the governor signed Friday include:
Senate Bill 167: Dentists in Illinois can now provide patients with assistance over the phone with a measure signed into law Friday. Senate Bill 167 also ensures a dentist is educated in cardiac life support.
Senate Bill 556: It’s now law that every single-occupancy bathroom in a place with public accommodations like a restaurant must have proper signage. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 556 that requires such bathrooms to be labeled as all-gender.
House Bill 2123: This measure requires labeling for food products that contain sesame seeds.
House Bill 2209: Property taxpayers will now know how much they’re paying for incentives to developers. The measure requires property tax bills to include a list of Tax Increment Finance, or TIF districts in the area and the dollar amount of tax allocated to each TIF district. TIF dollars come from any increased property tax revenue for a given period and is used as incentives to spur development in blighted areas.
House Bill 3462: School districts can now provide hunter safety courses. The measure allows the Illinois State Board of Education to offer hunter safety curriculum to school districts that want to include it in their teachings.