Madigan says CPS to make pension payment on time as delay bill dies

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House Speaker Michael Madigan said Tuesday afternoon that CPS would make its pension payment in full.

In a surprising announcement, House Speaker Michael Madigan said Tuesday afternoon a Chicago schools pension delay bill was moot, since “reliable sources” told him a bill due Tuesday would be paid in full by day’s end.

“I’ve been advised by reliable sources they have cash on hand and they’ll be in the position to make the payment before the end of the business day today. The full payment,” Madigan said.

When pressed on who told him, Madigan said: “It wasn’t Rahm.”

The consequences to the Chicago Public Schools and its students were far from clear Tuesday. Mayor Emanuel at an news conference earlier in the day refused to say where CPS would get the money or what cuts would take place in classrooms to make the payment.

Emanuel says schools will open on time but won’t specify cuts

When it became clear in Springfield the bill was doomed, the usual finger-pointing ensued.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said earlier in the day that wanted to help the City and Chicago schools and has attempted to “proactively” provide a way to do that. He said Madigan stood in the way of a delay bill.

As a safety measure last week, the Chicago Board of Education approved $1.135 billion in borrowing against future tax revenues to float the district thorough the next school year.

Rauner addedthat he is working with Emanuel and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, to develop a pension reform plan and bring “longtermstructural reform” to the state, he said.

“Our administration stands ready to help the city of Chicago getthrough its financial crisis — and they have a very serious financialcrisis,” Rauner said.“The Speaker decided not to support the compromise legislation to help give a little breathing room on the city’s pension payment.”

“The one thing we did proactively do to try to help the city was to goahead and advance as much as $450 million to help Chicago PublicSchools this week, if that were helpful to the cash flow situation,” Rauner said. Emanuel, however, rejected that offer saying that using next year’s money to pay this year’s bills was the same path that got Chicago schools into the trouble they’re in now.

At issue is a $634 million Chicago Teachers Pension Fund payment due today. Last week, a measure that would have delayed the payment until Aug. 10 failed to advance in the House.

When pressed earlier in the day on whether he’d support the delay bill should a version of the measure gothrough the House today, Rauner said:

“My sense is the Speaker is not on board for it. I’m not going tospeculate as to why. I can’t speculate about what may happen on thatparticular bill. What we’ll do is everything we can within ouradministration proactively to help the city make sure the schools openon time and we have the sufficient window to work out a longterm structural solution.”

However, Rauner added that the delay bill only “kicks the can,” anddoesn’t directly address CPS’ longterm issue.

“It frankly doesn’t move the needle that much, what happens with thatI can’t speculate. What we need is longterm structural reform and weactually developed a plan in partnership the mayor and the president and I hope we can get some traction on that in the coming days.”

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