By Jamey Dunn
Gov. Pat Quinn sought to push back the effective date of a bill that would oust many of his appointees from office.
Senate Bill 1 would automatically clear out employees once their appointed terms have expired. Quinn could reappoint anyone he chose, but all appointments would have to go through the Senate for approval. “For too long too many officials and appointees have served in expired terms without undergoing the constitutionally required public review before the Senate,” Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno wrote in a letter they sent to Quinn earlier this year urging him to sign the bill. According to a Senate review of appointees, almost 550 are serving beyond their appointed terms and nearly 100 of those collect a salary for their service. Paid employees currently serving beyond their terms would be immediately out of a job, while those serving in unpaid positions would be removed in 30 days.
Quinn returned the bill to the Senate with one tweak: he wants the effective dates bumped back. If Quinn had signed the bill, it would have taken effect immediately. Instead, if the legislature approves Quinn’s change, the law would kick in July 1 for those appointed to paying jobs and October 1 for those holding unpaid positions.
Quinn said in his amendatory veto message that he needs the time to seek candidates for the jobs that the legislation would make vacant. “I applaud the sponsors for working to make the executive appointments process even more transparent. My recommendations for change would honor the intent of the sponsors but would also give citizens ample time to apply for a vacant position and allow a reasonable amount of time for identifying and recruiting qualified candidates,” Quinn said in the message.
Annie Thompson, a spokeswoman for Quinn, said the governor also wants to allow the public enough time to make nominations for any positions that may be vacated through a website the administration created to take input on the appointment process from Illinois residents.
“Finding people who are the perfect fit for a certain position is not a quick process. We would like to be able to take the amount of time necessary to find those candidates,” Thompson said.
The original bill had more than enough supporters in both chambers to potentially override the governor’s veto. It now returns to the Senate, where members could vote to accept the governor’s changes, override them or take no action and allow the bill to die. "At this point we're going to study the governor's action to see if it complies with the Constitution,” John Patterson, a spokesman for Cullerton, said in a written statement.