Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner took no holiday this weekend from a feud that erupted after Rauner vetoed a police and fire pension bill, which the mayor insists will result in a $300 million property tax hike.
Sunday began with Emanuel challenging the governor to face the media, so the governor could explain why he rejected a bill Friday that was once part of his own pension proposal. By day’s end, not only had Rauner met with the press, he called on Emanuel to travel to the Capitol to personally lobby for reforms to help his city, asking, “Where’s the mayor?”
But an Emanuel spokesman countered that “Mayor Emanuel has passed more significant legislation in Springfield over the past year and a half than the governor has.”
It all played out in the waning days of another legislative session in Springfield.
Rauner had until Monday to sign or veto the pension bill. Pulling out his veto pen, Rauner argued Friday that the bill simply kicked the can down the road on pension payments and put an even greater financial burden on Chicago taxpayers in the long term. However, his office had said Rauner would be open to the plan if it was packaged with other reforms.
That didn’t stop Rauner from flatly describing the bill as “terrible policy” Sunday when he met with reporters. He also said it is “false,” “wrong” and “misleading” to suggest the bill would have saved Chicago $843 million over five years. Rather, he said Emanuel would have been allowed to “skip” payments and borrow from the pension funds.
“What Chicago has been doing for decades, and it’s the reason they’re so financially — they’re on the verge of bankruptcy as a city and as a school district — is because they’ve been borrowing to fund operations. And that’s what the mayor is doing by delaying these pension payments. He hasn’t done any real reforms.”
Rauner then added: “If the mayor wants to get upset that he can’t borrow more to fund operations, what he ought to be doing is being down here in Springfield, advocating for reforms for his city.”
Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins called it “kind of a bizarre comment.”
“Mayor Emanuel has passed more significant legislation in Springfield over the past year and a half than the governor has,” Collins said in an email. “Whatever spin the governor wants to put on it, the fact is he has been hypocritical on police and fire pensions. He was literally for the plan before he was against it.”
Emanuel quickly moved to brand an impending property tax increase as “the Rauner Tax” after the governor vetoed the pension plan. Collins said the mayor’s office is “unequivocally calling on legislators to override the governor’s veto and prevent the $300 million Rauner Tax from taking effect.”
However, the bill passed the House of Representatives five votes short of the 71 needed for an override.