Gov. Rauner urges lawmakers to pass stopgap budget

Sarah Schulte Image
Monday, June 27, 2016
Rauner urges lawmakers to pass stopgap budget
Illinois lawmakers reconvene on Wednesday and Gov. Bruce Rauner is urging them to pass his stopgap budget proposal.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is encouraging lawmakers to pass his stopgap budget proposal when they reconvene on Wednesday.

However, education funding could be a stumbling block. It is all about Chicago Public Schools.

Rauner reiterated Monday his firm stance that a budget agreement will not be what he calls a bailout for CPS. Rauner is hoping to hash things before Wednesday. He has called for a meeting with the four Republican and Democratic leaders for Tuesday.

State road projects could come to a halt, social service agencies could shut down and schools may not open in the fall if Illinois lawmakers don't pass a budget by July 1.

Rauner said a deal on a stopgap budget is very close, but it is being held up by Democratic leaders who won't sign off on it unless it includes more funding for CPS.

"Don't do blackmail on the people of Illinois, holding up schools opening to bailout CPS," Rauner said.

CPS is threatening at least 25 percent cuts at every school unless lawmakers in Springfield help out. The district has been pushing for a change in the state school funding formula that would allow poorer districts, such as CPS, to get - what they say -- a more equitable share of the money. Democratic leaders Mike Madigan and John Cullerton said changing the formula must be part of a budget agreement.

"The larger task of revamping the formula is much more politically difficult, particularly because there are losers, and particularly because without putting new money in system there are going to be districts that are going to lose," said Paul Vallas, a former CPS CEO.

Vallas said Democrats should abandon the funding formula push for now and concentrate on changing the pension system. Right now, Chicago taxpayers fund Chicago teacher pensions, as well as other Illinois school districts, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls a bailout.

"The state of Illinois should treat teachers and taxpayers in Chicago with the same generosity that Chicago taxpayers treat the teachers from around the state," Rahm said.

Emanuel said that even if Springfield doesn't come to the rescue by Thursday, CPS will make a $676 million pension payment, which will almost deplete its cash reserves.

Gov. Rauner said if Emanuel expects help from the state, he should consider reforms such as bankruptcy as an option for CPS. However, a bankruptcy is not a popular idea with either Democrats or Republicans.