Organizers call off CPS boycott

Meeks to meet with governor
CHICAGO The Reverend Senator Meeks called off the boycott to get a meeting with Governor Rod Blagojevich, who has agreed to sit down with Meeks early next week on the issue of how to reform the system for funding public education in Illinois.

Meanwhile, Chicago's Mayor Daley, whom Meeks criticized Wednesday, says he agrees with Meeks that education funding should be the state government's top priority.

"It should always be a bigger priority. This city has set the highest priority in the city, schools," said Mayor Daley.

The mayor has said the same thing about education funding for years. And while he did not agree with the Meeks-led boycott, he and the reverend senator have always been on the same page.

"We get it. You're right. You have to educate the rest of the state how important education is to the future of their children and grandchildren and their own communities," said Daley.

"I want to commend the mayor and ask the mayor to get on the phone and call every Illinois legislator and tell them that personally," said Rev. Sen. James Meeks, (D) Chicago.

In a statement Thursday morning, a spokesman for Governor Rod Blagojevich wrote, "The governor would be happy to meet with him (Meeks). Our office is in the process of trying to schedule a meeting."

Wednesday, the governor said his priority remains the passage of a $25 billion capital bill to create jobs. Blagojevich has not wavered from his election year pledge not to raise taxes.

"When you have a public official that raises their hand that says I pledge never, never, never, never to raise any new revenue, how do you run your household and how do you run a business and how do you run a government," said Mayor Daley.

After his indirect swipe at the governor, the mayor explained again how education funding reform would not require a tax increase, but a swap; higher income taxes would be offset by lower property taxes.

"It's really not a tax. It's a decrease of real estate taxes for the increase of a corporate individual income tax," said Mayor Daley.

Meeks wants the mayor to help convince legislative leaders to put the capital bill on a back burner to consider education funding reform. And Meeks made clear what he called the political stakes for the governor.

"I'm afraid that it will hurt him at the ballot box in 2010 if he does not begin to start speaking the language of education," Meeks said.

Meeks said Thursday afternoon that if education funding reform does not happen under Rod Blagojevich's current administration, and if Blagojevich runs for re-election in a 2010 general election, Meeks will run for governor as an independent.

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