SPRINGFIELD – After Rauner victory after victory – narrowly blocking veto overrides one after another – the governor suffered a hard blow Monday afternoon at the hands of two three of his own GOP caucus members.
Rep. David Harris (R-Mount Prospect), Rep. David McSweeney (R-South Barrington) and Mike McAuliffe (R-Chicago) stunned Capitol observers when they sided with Mayor Emanuel and Speaker Madigan, voting to override Rauner's veto of a Chicago police and fire pension bill Mayor Emanuel desperately wanted.
McSweeney told Illinois Review Tuesday that his reason for supporting the override was because SB 777 would lengthen Chicago police and firefighter pension amortization ramp by 15 years and would not involve obligating state funds. And without the measure passing, Chicagoans would be hit with another $250 million in property tax hikes – something McSweeney says he will never support.
"I will never support a tax increase, and I will not support the 'grand bargain' everyone's talking about, either," McSweeney said. "Not one penny of state funding was in the bill, there was no bailout."
Governor Rauner was clearly unhappy with the override.
“It’s unfortunate that the legislature voted again to allow the City of Chicago to borrow $843 million at an interest rate of 7.75% from their pensions, putting an additional $18.6 billion on the backs of taxpayers," he said in a statement.
"Clearly, those who supported this measure haven’t recognized what happens when governments fail to promptly fund pension obligations. Instead of kicking the can down the road, local and state governments should instead focus on reforms that will grow our economy, create jobs and enable us live up to the promises we’ve made to police and firefighters.”
Would McSweeney be concerned that the governor would view his vote to override as a betrayal?
"I've been supportive of Governor Rauner almost 100% of the time," McSweeney said. "I'm supportive of most of his Turnaround Agenda, but I will never support a tax hike. We need to cut spending to balance the budget by between $3.5 and $4 billion rather than raise taxes by thirty percent, as we're also hearing proposed."
Democrat House members Scott Drury, Ken Dunkin and Jack Franks also voted with Mayor Emanuel, passing the bill 72 to 43, just after the Senate voted to override the veto along party lines 39 to 19.