Top Illinois Republican leaders are proposing a state takeover to deal with the financial problems of Chicago Public Schools.
Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel says the state just needs to pass a budget.
The proposed legislation, supported by Republicans including the Governor, would allow the Illinois Board of Education to remove the current CPS school board and open the door for CPS to file for bankruptcy. Lawmakers call the proposal a lifeline and not a state bailout.
“We are throwing Chicago and CPS a lifeline,” House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Durkin said during a news conference. “The Chicago Public Schools are facing massive layoffs and a possible teachers strike. And despite credit downgrade to junk status, CPS is now looking to long-term bonds to pay for for hundreds of millions of dollars in short-term operating expenses.”
“CPS and the city of Chicago is in the state of crisis,” Durkin continued. “A crisis that they have had for years to prepare for and that could have been averted. We believe the taxpayers and the school children of Illinois and Chicago deserve better. The goals here is to provide the tools to write the ship.”
“I want to reemphasize this, this is not a bailout. This is a state bailout of CPS. Taxpayers statewide should not and will not be held responsible for the historically bad decisions made by Chicago politicians.”
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Democratic controlled general assembly plan to fight the proposal, in part because it remove local control, and should the district file bankruptcy, allow the re-negotiation of teacher union contracts.
Instead of a state takeover, Emanuel urged Governor Bruce Rauner to pass a state budget and give CPS more money to cover an estimated $500 million in pension costs.