The Chicago Teachers Union and others who’ve been hurt by a lack of a state budget rallied Tuesday outside a state hearing aimed at raising new revenue.
This time their target was wealthy LaSalle Street traders.
“It’s not that there isn’t enough money in Illinois, it’s that the money is in the wrong pockets,” said Sheilah Garland, an organizer from National Nurses United, championing a bill to create a so-called “LaSalle Street tax.”
The legislation would impose taxes “on the privilege of engaging in a financial transaction” at the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Board Options Exchange — $1 for each agricultural transaction and $2 on any other kind of trade. Supporters say it could generate some $10 billion for the state.
The bill remains a long shot; it still has just one sponsor, Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, and has been sitting since April in the Rules committee essentially controlled by powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan. Now that lawmakers are in special session, it also needs a three-fifths vote to pass.
Critics say that adding any fees to trades could drive those lucrative services out of Chicago.
“There’s no reason for LaSalle Street to leave,” said CTU official Michael Brunson. “It’s just like saying a grocery store is going to leave just because they have to collect the tax on a loaf of bread.”
Brunson said Chicago can’t afford to keep cutting school budgets, saying, “All of the things we need to create a whole student, a whole human being, we need to bring them back and we need revenue for that.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s secretary of education, Beth Purvis, was pushing a pair of Republican short-term proposals she said would make sure schools could open their doors in the fall absent any larger budget plans.
“It’s very important to say that this does not mean bipartisan, bicameral conversations about a new school funding formula are going to stop,” she said. “But the reality is none of the proposals that look at a new school funding formula have yet made it to the governor’s desk.”
CPS says it won’t be able to open its schools without steep budget cuts that principals have warned will lead to giant class sizes.
“Districts throughout the state — including districts on the governor’s recent whistle-stop tour – would get significantly less under his plan than under the House proposal, so it’s no wonder that it’s facing so much opposition,” CEO Forrest Claypool said.