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Emanuel likens Rauner to Donald Trump for blame-game tour

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (left) says his old friend, Gov. Bruce Rauner, is acting more like Donald Trump these days. | File photos

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday likened his old friend, Gov. Bruce Rauner, to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and condemned Rauner’s blame-game tour of the state.

“Schools across Illinois need a leader‎ and instead, Bruce Rauner is following the Donald Trump playbook of demonizing one group of people for his political advantage,” the mayor was quoted as saying in an emailed statement.

“Yesterday, people across the state were looking for solutions. Instead of uniting, the governor was dividing. Instead of leading, he was playing politics, pitting parents and students in one part of the state against parents and students in another.”

Rauner responded to the comparison at an appearance in Itasca on Thursday afternoon, likening the mayor’s words to that of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who frequently speaks out about the governor.

“I don’t know where all these goofy personal attacks come from,” Rauner said. “That’s not helpful. Sometimes I think Rahm has taken his speaking lessons from Karen or something. This is not helpful. This is not helpful. We’ve got to focus on the facts and what’s constructive.”

The mayor’s decision to use Trump’s name in vain — again — comes one day after a Hollywood Reporter story that quoted Trump as claiming that Emanuel’s brother, Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel, is a “very good friend of mine” who “calls me a lot.”

Trump was quoted in the story as claiming that Ari Emanuel had offered to take charge of a film about Trump that would air at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month.

That would have posed a brotherly love conflict between the brothers Emanuel because the mayor is one of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s staunchest supporters.

A source close to Ari Emanuel has since told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed that neither the mayor’s brother nor his talent agency, William Morris Endeavor, plan to do any work for the RNC.

Earlier this week, the Illinois General Assembly closed its spring session without an overall state budget or a stand-alone education budget that would have provided nearly $500 million to the nearly bankrupt Chicago Public Schools.

Schools CEO Forrest Claypool responded by warning that, without considerable help from Springfield, which will now take a three-fifths vote, Chicago Public Schools will not open on time in the fall.

Even with state help, Claypool has warned that a school system locked out of the credit markets by its junk bond rating will need the mayor to follow through on this promise to persuade the City Council to raise property taxes by $175 million for teacher pensions.

In addition, Claypool has reiterated that the Chicago Teachers Union must agree to the equivalent of a 7 percent pay cut — by phasing out the 7 percent “pension pickup” granted to teachers years ago in lieu of a pay raise.

The pension phaseout was included in a tentative contract shot down by the CTU’s 40-person bargaining unit but affirmed by an independent arbitrator.

The most pressing financial concern for CPS is a $676 million payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund due on June 30.

CPS has no choice but to make that payment in full, whether Springfield rides to the rescue or not.

To do otherwise would probably mean losing future access to the credit markets and slipping dangerously further into junk bond status, possibly dragging the city’s bond rating down with it.

But after making that payment in full, CPS will have just $24 million left in the bank. That’s enough to cover just 1.5 days of payroll.

Because property tax revenues won’t start rolling in until early to mid-August, that means CPS would essentially be forced to operate “bone-dry” through the month of July.

Rauner and Emanuel are longtime friends, vacation companions and business associates who made millions together. The Trump comparison was a low blow, considering the fact that Rauner has bemoaned the tone of the Trump campaign and announced plans to boycott the Republican convention.

Rauner began his two-day push for an interim budget by fanning the flames of resentment between Chicago and southern and central Illinois.

He accused Chicago Democrats who control the Illinois House and Senate, but are at odds with each other, of forcing a Chicago bailout that will snatch tax dollars away from “hardworking” people across the state.

All members of the Senate’s Democratic Black Caucus voted either no or present on the spending plan, showing discontent about how House Speaker Mike Madigan’s appropriations bill was both crafted and passed last week.

“The Senate and the House were competing with each other, who could spend more to bail out Chicago with your tax dollars from southern Illinois and central Illinois and Moline and Rockford and Danville — the communities of this state who are hard-working families who pay their taxes. The taxes should go into our communities, not into the Chicago political machine. That’s where Speaker [Mike] Madigan and his allies want the money to go. We’ve got to stop that. We’ve got to change this direction,” Rauner said Wednesday.

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles