Document: Rauner plan would advance $450M to Chicago schools

SHARE Document: Rauner plan would advance $450M to Chicago schools

CHICAGO — Gov. Bruce Rauner is offering to accelerate state grant payments to help cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools make a $634 million pension contribution, according to a summary of the proposal obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.

The document, prepared by the Rauner administration, states the Illinois State Board of Education has identified $450 million in grants that normally would be distributed to CPS over the course of the fiscal year that could be provided as early as this week. The advance wouldn’t require legislative approval.

The nation’s third-largest school district faces a Tuesday deadline to make the pension payment, but officials say CPS doesn’t have the money. Interim schools CEO Jesse Ruiz has said that drastic schoolroom cuts could be necessary without some relief.

The Illinois House voted down a plan last week that would have extended the payment deadline by 40 days, giving CPS some time to come up with an alternative funding plan.

Rauner’s office blamed Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan for the failure, saying he had Democrats vote against it because he “wanted to kill it” and noting it had support of the governor, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and GOP legislative leaders.

Madigan said there was controversy around the bill but said the House would vote on it again when lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday.

Such a vote wouldn’t be necessary if Emanuel and CPS take Rauner up on his offer, but it was unclear late Sunday what the next steps will be.

A Rauner spokesman declined to comment, and spokeswomen for Emanuel and CPS didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The proposal comes as lawmakers continue to debate a new state budget and with Rauner and Madigan particularly at odds.

Rauner last week vetoed a proposed new state budget sent to him by Democrats who control the Legislature, and he has repeatedly criticized Madigan and other Democrats as unwilling to compromise and only interested in raising taxes.

Madigan has described Rauner and his proposals as “extreme” and is pinning the blame on the governor for Illinois starting a new fiscal year Wednesday without a budget in place.

Despite the lack of a budget, the summary of Rauner’s proposal states that the comptroller’s office — which controls the state’s checkbook — believes there’s enough money in the state treasury to provide the funds to CPS.

SARA BURNETT, Associated Press

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