Illinois House fails to pass CPS pension payment extension bill

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One day after the mayor said CPS could not make a teachers pension payment due on June 30, state lawmakers defeated a bill to extend the deadline. (WLS)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was stunned by a surprising vote at the Capitol on Tuesday. One day after the mayor said Chicago Public Schools could not make a teachers pension payment due on June 30, state lawmakers defeated a bill to extend that deadline.

"To me, the mayor has other things that he needs to do before we just give him the extension," said State Rept. Mary Flowers, D-31st District.

Flowers, who has dozens of Chicago Public Schools in her South Side district, insisted she was not part of any organized plot to sabotage the bill that would have extended the CPS pension payment deadline.

"The vote that I exercised on the House floor today was Mary Flowers' vote," she said.

Earlier, a desperate CPS CEO Jesse Ruiz told anyone who would listen that the district does not have the money to make the $600 million teacher pension payment due on June 30.

"I'm here today to ask for more time so we can continue the conversation about finding a structural solution to this problem," Ruiz said.

Downstate lawmakers were already skeptical about Ruiz and his appeal for more time.

"What is your plan? And is it tenable for the long term?" said State Rep. Chad Hays, R-104th District.

A few hours before the House vote, Republican senate leaders thought the bill - which pushed back the pension payment to August - was a bi-partisan sign the budget stalemate might be breaking.

"I hope it's a positive sign. The ball's in their court," said State Sen. Christine Radogno, R-41st District.

But House Speaker Michael Madigan's Democratic caucus did not fall in line.

"I don't know what happened in all the leaders being all on the bill. I wasn't on the bill," Flowers said.

Madigan, who is embroiled in a high-profile budget dispute with Gov. Bruce Rauner, voted for the extension. But a Rauner spokesman issued a statement saying: "The only reason the speaker's Chicago caucus would vote against the mayor's bill is because Madigan wanted to kill it."

"Everybody can come together in moderation, moderation and not in the extreme and work to find votes to pass the bill. I'm sure it can be done," Madigan said.

There's still a chance to pass an extension when the House and Senate convene next Tuesday on June 30. But with bad blood still flowing in Springfield, who knows?

Related Topics:
educationpoliticscpsstate politicspublic schoolteachersunionspensionsBruce RaunerSpringfieldChicago - Loop
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