The cool relationship between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel grew chillier on Wednesday.
In the ongoing battle over Chicago Public Schools, Rauner said Emanuel “caved” to the Chicago Teachers Union – something Rauner would not do if his bid to take over CPS succeeds.
Emanuel, told of Rauner’s remarks, said the governor “is not the place you would turn to for financial stewardship,” what with the state of Illinois without a budget for a year, $8 billion behind in paying its bills and with public universities on the brink of “financial ruin.”
Rauner took on Emanuel after participating in a blood drive at Union Station. “I believe if we get involved we can take on the teachers union,” Rauner said. “The mayor is afraid of them. He caved in the teachers strike four and half years ago and he’s sending the message right now he’s going to give them what they want and then say: ‘State, pay for it.’”
Rauner reiterated his reluctance to hand Emanuel about $500 million to plug the CPS budget and avoid layoffs without assurances that Emanuel will support his pro-business agenda for Illinois.
“The mayor has failed on this. He’s failed on public safety. He’s failed on schools. He’s failed on jobs in the neighborhoods. He’s failed on taxes. He’s failed on reform. And I’m tired of it. We need to take action,” Rauner said.
Rauner insisted legislation being drafted to allow the state to take over CPS is not “dead in the water,” despite remarks otherwise by Democratic leaders.
Emanuel was in Washington on Wednesday to attend the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting and visit with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, among other stops.
Asked about Rauner’s remark that he “caved” to the CTU, Emanuel reframed the matter, pointing to student achievements on his watch instead.
When it comes to cleaning up a financial mess, Emanuel was not interested in taking advice from Rauner, who just marked his first year in office.
“This is a smokescreen to deflect attention from the fact that the state under the governor has yet to produce — one year later, a budget,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times, noting the state has “$8 billion in unpaid bills and one year later its driving institutions of higher learning and their students to the financial brink.”
With a big set of financial challenges at CPS, Emanuel said he was “methodically fixing them. But if you had to think who you would turn to for advice and help and oversight,” Rauner “ . . . would not be who you would turn to.”
Emanuel was asked what he thought of Rauner taking a shot at him.
“Things are tough enough,” Emanuel said, “without making it about personalities. . . . My recommendation is it’s not about personalities, it’s about finding solutions to big problems.”
Lynn Sweet reported from Washington.