Rauner, mayors urge Dem leaders to back stopgap, school bills
Gov. Bruce Rauner and several mayors from around Illinois recently appealed to Democrats in the General Assembly to return to Springfield and pass the stopgap budget (HB 6585/SB 3435) and education budget (HB 6583/SB 3434).
“We’re at a critical time for Illinois," Rauner said in a press conference this week. "We don’t have a budget. The General Assembly left. May 31, (they) left Springfield; they haven’t been back. They left without passing any budget whatsoever.”
The lack of a budget this year has left Illinois on the verge of a crisis, Rauner said.
“There’s the possibility that starting July 1, essential services could be shut; key services could cease to be provided,” Rauner said.
Essential services such as road construction, corrections and public safety, and support for the most vulnerable may all come to a halt.
“And it is a risk that in August, our schools can’t open on time with proper funding," Rauner said. "This would be an outrageous, tragic failure for the people of Illinois. We cannot allow this to happen."
A stopgap funding plan would provide some much-needed financial relief to schools struggling to keep their doors open and other services statewide.
“It’s not a long-term solution, but it allows for the appropriation of key funds from existing accounts. The money is there – we raise over $32 billion a year,” Rauner said.
The governor said he has seen progress in talks among legislators regarding the stopgap budget, and he believes an agreement is around the corner.
The second bill Rauner wants legislators to pass is an education bill that would provide more money for the K-12 school system.
“Our teachers, our students must come first," Rauner said. "No matter what else, our future is our children. Our schools deserve to open on time with more money."
If approved, HB 6583/SB 3434 would appropriate $240 million more to public schools, but Rauner said House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Dist. 22) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Dist. 6) have dug in their heels and refused to compromise.
“What they’ve said is, ‘No deal, no budget, unless the funding formula changes, and we get a lot more money for Chicago Public Schools,’” Rauner said. “They’ve basically threatened to hold up the entire funding process, the budget process, for a bailout of CPS.”
Asking taxpayers across the state to fix Chicago’s problems is wrong, unfair, and unreasonable for the children and taxpayers of Illinois, Rauner said.
“CPS has been financially mismanaged for years and years,” Rauner said. “They have been running on a massive deficit, massive debt, not funding their pensions, even while the state government through state taxpayers has been sending contributions to the teachers' pension in Chicago.”
CPS officials have run the district “more for patronage and political purposes” than they have to educate their students.
“It’s a failure on the part of the mayor (Rahm Emanuel). It’s a failure on the part of CPS leadership, and what is patently unfair is for them to try to force Illinois taxpayers, families across the state, to bail out that failure,” Rauner said.
What Rauner would like to know is why Emanuel has not reached out to Cullerton to discuss pension reform, which would help Chicago begin to climb out of the gigantic hole it dug.