socastcmsRssStartBy Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Taxpayers could be on the hook for bigger payouts to those wronged by the state with a bill headed for a possible veto override.
Last week the Senate voted to override Senate Bill 2481 which increases the cap on awards through the Illinois Court of Claims, the body that takes cases from people claiming they’ve been wronged by the government.
Right now that cap is $100,000. The bill would increase the cap to $2 million.
Sponsor state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, said the bill was thoroughly negotiated.
“This bill has been agreed upon and I think the only person who is against this bill is the soon-to-be former governor,” Hastings said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner in his veto message wanted to make the cap only $300,000.
“Among the largest states in the nation, the cap averages about $350,000 for individual claims,” Rauner wrote in his veto message. “As proposed, SB 2481 would make Illinois an extreme outlier when compared to our surrounding states."
The governor said it could lead to more lawsuits against the state that residents would have to pay for.
“[T]his legislation could invite frivolous lawsuits and expose taxpayers to hundreds of millions of dollars of potential damages each year without adequate study or justification,” Rauner said.
“We need to balance the need for relieving citizens inadvertently harmed by the state with the burden to which the state and its taxpayers are subjected through litigation awards it cannot afford,” the governor said.
Hastings said the bill focuses on claims of gross negligence.
“Gross negligence is a conscious involuntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care which is likely to cause foreseeable grave injury or harm to a person,” Hastings said. “The situation at Quincy is extremely unfortunate.”
Hastings said the state was negligent in the Quincy cases where more than a dozen people died from Legionnaires’ disease. Rauner has denied the administration was negligent.
State Sen. Michael Connelly, R-Naperville, said he supports the limits in the bill and if it were up to him, he’d get rid of the limits entirely.
“It was negotiated over many, many weeks, and frankly I wanted no cap,” Connelly said. “If it were up to me there’d be no cap.”
The measure now heads to the House where it originally passed with a veto-proof majority.