The Power of Institutional Design: Governors, Vetoes, and Legislative Outcomes
Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist by trade and a political novice, made a strong run at the Illinois governorship in 2014, ultimately unseating incumbent Pat Quinn in the general election. After defeating a robust field of established candidates in a tightly contested GOP primary, Rauner set his sights not only on winning the general election, but also on fundamentally changing the office for which he contended. In addition to his personal campaign, Rauner worked to qualify ballot initiatives that would have introduced term limits to the General Assembly and increased the number of votes needed to override a gubernatorial veto from three-fifths of each legislative chamber to two-thirds. These reform efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, for now, as Illinois courts deemed them unconstitutional.1 Yet, Rauner insisted that he would pursue these reforms whether elected or not, citing vague concerns for “checks and balances.” In this chapter, we provide a framework for considering the effects such an institutional change might bring to Illinois. More generally, we assess how the specifics of governors’ veto powers condition their influence over the legislative process.
KeywordsInstitutional Design Simple Majority Winning Coalition Veto Power Coalition Size
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