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Illinoisans score pair of major wins in Springfield

Quad City Times

Tuesday, November 14, 2017  |  Editorial  |  Editorial Board

People in Springfield for whom politics is lifeblood were busy calculating how badly Gov. Bruce Rauner lost in a pair of veto overrides last week.

 

We prefer to let prognosticators focus on what defections by GOP lawmakers on the Debt Transparency Act and the Life Insurance Reform Act will mean for the GOP governor's re-election bid, and instead focus on the sure winners here:

 

Illinois residents, current and future.

 

First up, kudos to lawmakers for refusing to let election-year politics derail the opportunity to at last require timely reporting of Illinois debts. When the bill becomes law on Jan. 1, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, and all other keepers of the state checkbook who come after her, will get a monthly accounting of state agency liabilities.

 

It will help the current comptroller perform the tricky fiscal triage necessary to decide which of the state's $16.7 billion in unpaid bills must be paid first.

 

The governor had argued that the bill he overrode was an effort by political enemies to "micromanage" his budgeting authority. Senators, however, overwhelmingly disagreed, voting 52-3 to reject the veto.

 

Thanks to Quad-Cities area Sen. Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria, and Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, for joining Reps. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island and Dan Swanson, R-Alpha, in supporting a new law designed to end the irresponsible practice of agencies hiding and holding bills, with taxpayers paying the price.

 

As we said in calling for the override, their actions offer hope that lawmakers may at last be getting serious about changing the disastrous policies of the past.

 

The other win for Illinoisans came later in the week when senators overrode the governor's amendatory veto of the Life Insurance Reform Act. Championed by State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, the bill was aimed at making sure that insurance companies pay death benefits in a timely manner.

 

“This override vote means a countless number of our families will keep their home and a child will not be forced to drop out of school to support their family after a loved one dies,” Treasurer Frerichs said in a statement after the Senate voted 36-18 to override the governor. “Today’s action makes it clear that the people of Illinois will no longer tolerate loopholes that allow greedy life insurance companies to pad their bottom line using death benefits that should have been paid to grieving families.”

 

Cheers once again to Sen. Weaver and Sen. Anderson and Reps. McCombie, Swanson and Halpin for voting to make it harder for unscrupulous life insurance companies to avoid paying death penalties if they know or should have known that someone had died.

 

As we've noted in the past, while most insurance companies want to honor their commitment to get benefits in the hands of those designated to receive them, a disturbing number do not. Since 2011, contingency fee auditors found some $550 million in insurance benefits due Illinoisans were being held by life insurance companies; more than $350 million of that was paid directly to beneficiaries by insurers.

 

We salute all who voted to ensure that their heirs receive the benefits that their loved ones worked so hard to provide for them.