In the continuing stalemate between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – this time on the Chicago Public School budget – the former has rejected any “special deals” for Chicago, on Wednesday, basically a reiteration of an earlier appearance months ago before the city council. And, as to be expected, Rauner has tied any financial help from the state government to changes in collective bargaining — an anti-union stance that won’t fare well with Chicago’s pro-union gospel.
Calling them “special deals” Rauner made his rejection public “a day after the Illinois Senate passed a property tax freeze bill that would also pick up $200 million in pension costs for Chicago Public Schools,” reported the Chicago Sun-Times Stating that all communities should be treated the same, Rauner, is playing by the rules of the Republican playbook that is intent on decimating unions, and their influence, especially as financial contributors and their influence in the Democratic party.
“We should treat the people of Illinois equitably and fairly and stop giving special deals for Chicago,” he said. “Illinois should not be a dictatorship from Chicago.”
Rauner also took the opportunity to attack his polar opposite, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, when he noted that the latter is only willing to bargain when “it’s a special request from Chicago.”
The resulting power play between the governor and the Democrats has resulted in the state operating without a budget for over a month, with no end in sight, as neither Madigan, or Rauner are blinking. But, Madigan, characterizing Chicago as different due the number of poor children in the city’s schools wants an exception to be made, He said, “The Chicago schools system is different than most systems in the state,” and. “Because of the number of poor children attending schools in Chicago, 86 percent, Chicago’s system should get some different considerations, some special considerations. I would be prepared to work to get that done.”
Madigan plans to take the proposal to the House next week, but observers say that whatever is decided on will be a wasted effort because Rauner has dug in his heels and is enjoying seeing Madigan beg, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, nodding in the background.
A continuing part of the financial saga is another proposal that Chicago teachers pay the entire 9 percent towards their pensions, and one that Rauner supports. “If Chicago Public Schools need the ability to have certain things out of collective bargaining, they should be able to do that,” noted the Sun-Times.
The Chicago Teacher’s Union disagrees, and called the pay-in “morally reprehensible.” In turn, they suggested that both the governor and the mayor to “enact a progressive income tax, close corporate loopholes and a tax on financial transactions,” to bring CPS and Chicago to erase the deficit, as the Sun-Times noted.
“The knives have come out and now there is no question that Mayor Emanuel and Governor Rauner are united in this public campaign to convince the public that imposing draconian budget cuts on our schools and communities is their only option,” CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said in a statement.
Rauner also segued into his own mantra when he remarked, “Rather than doing a special one-off deal on one issue for Chicago, the right answer is allow all school districts in Illinois, all local governments in Illinois, to have these decisions made by them at their level. Then Chicago wouldn’t be in this fix. That’s what we’ve been saying all along.”
This type of political maneuvering will be a continuing challenge for new CPS CEO Forrest Claypool who remarked that “We agree that no one should get a special deal — which is exactly why we should end the raw deal that is hurting Chicago taxpayers, teachers and students,” entering the ring with the near annual complaint that Chicago pays double for teacher pensions in Chicago, through property taxes, as well as paying for the pensions of teachers throughout Illinois. Other districts receive funding from state funds.
He also stated that an increased teacher contribution is the norm by remarking, “I don’t see a solution that does not involve the teachers paying the 9 percent, which is consistent with what teachers around the country and other public employees pay,” Claypool told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. “No one pays 2 percent.”
Invoking the time-honored defense of “just do it for the kids”, Claypool, also said, in part, “We want to see a comprehensive solution move forward, and we are eager to work with all our partners, so that our children don’t pay the price of inaction.”