Aug. 20--Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sunday vetoed legislation to expand benefit rights for paramedics and emergency medical technicians by defining them as firefighters in municipal collective bargaining agreements.
Rauner's veto of the two measures, which were passed with overwhelming, veto-proof bipartisan majorities, was in line with his previous pronouncements that Springfield shouldn't dictate "unfunded state mandates on local governments."
But Rauner went further, castigating the legislation as perpetuating "the decades of political corruption that has plagued the state of Illinois for too long."
"Time and again, elected officials have granted sweeping benefits and power to the unions in exchange for campaign contributions and political support, creating a system of entrenchment, waste and bad government," Rauner wrote in his veto message of one of the measures.
While Rauner wrote he had the "utmost respect" for paramedics, he said the legislation granting them firefighter status "widens the already bloated union population in the public sector—increasing the union's entrenchment and wealth—and puts a significant financial and administrative burden on local governments."
The re-election-seeking Republican governor has adamantly maintained he is not anti-union, but he has a long record of attacking public-sector unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Rauner was a factor behind a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled nonunion public employees do not have to pay "fair share" fees to the union bargaining unit for the nonpolitical costs of negotiating labor agreements. The ruling reversed a 40-year precedent.