August 11, 2017
To the Honorable Members of
The Illinois House of Representatives,
100th General Assembly:
Today I veto House Bill 2379 from the 100th General Assembly, which requires a fiscal impact statement to be filed before executive orders can go into effect. I strongly agree with the commitment to transparency and fiscal responsibility this legislation embodies, but the responsibility for ensuring that those important goals are reflected in executive orders constitutionally lies with the executive, not the legislature.
Under Article 5, Section 8 of the Illinois Constitution, the Governor has “the supreme executive power.” Under that provision, Illinois governors have always issued executive orders touching a variety of issues. For example, under my administration, we have issued several executive orders aimed at raising the bar on ethics in state government, making ethics and compliance the touchstone of our administration.
House Bill 2379 seeks to impose on the Governor’s executive order authority a restriction not found in the Illinois Constitution.
Foundational separation of powers principles—deeply embedded in American democracy—are explicit in the Illinois Constitution. Article 2, Section 1 reads, “The legislative, executive and judicial branches are separate. No branch shall exercise powers properly belonging to another.”
Just as executive orders dealing with ethics in state executive agencies may not dictate ethics for the General Assembly, the General Assembly may not pass legislation to coerce the Governor in the exercise of his constitutional powers.
Nothing in this veto message should be mistaken as a disagreement with the sound idea that the Governor, just like the General Assembly, the Attorney General, or any of the other branches of government, should carefully consider the fiscal impact of any actions. After all, our first duty is to be responsible stewards of the scarce taxpayer dollars entrusted to us. Not a penny should be spent without careful thought given to the value that a given policy, program, or change would provide to taxpayers.
Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return House Bill 2379, entitled “AN ACT concerning state government”, with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.