SPRINGFIELD – Governor Bruce Rauner penned the following public letter to the state's employees, explaining his reasoning for vetoing HB 580 Monday:
OPEN LETTER TO STATE EMPLOYEES:
For too many years, Illinoisans have been misled. Each of you in state government has been misled. Taxpayers who fund government have been misled. Recipients of public services, including our most vulnerable residents, have also been misled. The consequences are before us, and they are dire.
I ran for office to right these wrongs. I believe that solving our state’s crisis requires a simple first step – for someone to tell the truth. So here it is.
The truth is that Illinois is broke. Our taxpayers, who pay the highest property taxes in the nation, are maxed out and local governments continue to raise property taxes.
Expanding the size of government faster than middle-class paychecks are growing is a failing strategy. That is why I have no choice but to veto AFSCME’s arbitration bill, HB580.
It’s not because I don’t want to see you earn a better living today. I do. I veto HB580 because I want to protect the pension system that you are counting on for your retirement.
If I signed this bill, I would be subjecting all taxpayers to another $3 billion in higher taxes. That makes no sense when too many jobs have been leaving Illinois, and those hardworking Illinoisans that remain see their incomes falling.
We can make Illinois a state where our employees receive the pension benefits they were promised, where our budget is truly balanced through strong economic growth rather than destructive tax hikes, and where our state workers are not forced to work in decaying buildings with technology that is older than my children and furniture that is older than me.
I pledged on my first day in office to build a partnership with state employees, and that is exactly what we have done. Our 1970s computers are being replaced with next generation technology. With the General Assembly’s help, I pledged to put the Thompson Center up for sale and move employees to more modern space. We pushed for more flexible scheduling and ended Rod Blagojevich’s corrupt hiring system.
When Attorney General Madigan sought to shut off pay, Comptroller Munger and I defeated that misguided attack on state employees. And I have called on the General Assembly to honor Governor Quinn’s failed promise of wage increases from 2011. We must respect our commitments and not make new commitments that we cannot afford.
We also sought employees’ ideas for improvements and savings, prompting us to send out the first-ever state employee survey. The results were eye-opening.
You told me that promotions and compensation are not based on merit. You told me that agencies don’t reward creativity and innovation. I want to reward hard work and ingenuity. Unfortunately, union leadership is blocking many of these common sense ideas – ideas that you want. Rest assured, I heard your desire for these reforms loud and clear.
So my administration took action. We launched a truly meaningful merit pay program. We started a gainsharing program that will reward state employees for helping save taxpayers’ money. We implemented a “rapid results” system that removes obstacles to employee innovation and allows employees to personally change processes that impede good customer service.
But as I have noted, with a truly historic budget deficit and skyrocketing debt, our taxpayers cannot afford the added spending pressure of huge wage and health insurance increases. That is why I must veto HB580, ensuring that the legal process agreed to with AFSCME leaders and currently underway before the Labor Board, is allowed to proceed and fairly resolve any outstanding issues.
But I make this pledge: The State will honor its promises to you. We will continue to listen and build a workplace that values and rewards hard work, innovation, and creativity, all in a welcoming work environment. We will keep fighting to get you paid in full and on time. And we will continue to stand for fiscal discipline so that you and your families can again know you are, finally, being told the truth.