Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday urged his old friend, Gov. Bruce Rauner, to “hit the re-set button” and present a balanced budget that makes the state and its public schools whole.
On the eve of the governor’s budget address, Emanuel used a luncheon speech to the Economic Club of Chicago to demand that Rauner do what the law demands of every other chief executive: present a balanced budget.
“Tomorrow, our governor is gonna give a speech, a budget. He has to deliver a balanced budget that funds education. Our kids are too important. They’re making all the reading gains and math gains,” the mayor told his audience of movers and shakers.
“I see a bunch of CEO’s and business leaders and people working in business. If I’m the mayor, I’m the chief executive of this city. You expect me to deliver a balanced budget, which I do. Dan Cronin in DuPage County — you expect him to deliver a balanced budget. Toni Preckwinkle — you expect her to deliver a balanced budget. We need a balanced budget that funds education and moves this state forward.”
Emanuel noted that the “biggest adverse effect” for Chicago and its drive to recruit even more corporate headquarters is “the uncertainty the state is creating over the business climate. … Uncertainty is our biggest threat. Our kids can’t afford it. Our businesses can’t afford it and the state can’t.”
Pounding the podium for emphasis, the mayor said, “I want the governor to hit the re-set button by having a balanced budget that finally moves this state forward. We cannot be the last state in the union without a budget.”
Emanuel called out his former business associate and travel companion on the same day that the Chicago Public Schools sued the governor and the Illinois State Board of Education, alleging that the way the state funds schools violates the civil rights of the minority children who make up nine out of 10 city students.
Citing the landmark education civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, CPS railed against the state of Illinois for maintaining what it calls “two separate and demonstrably unequal systems for funding public education in the State: one for the City of Chicago, whose public school children are 90% children of color, and the other for the rest of the State, whose public school children are predominantly white.”
Emanuel said the marathon state budget stalemate has caused a “brain drain for the first time in Illinois history.”
“That cannot be in a state or a city’s economic interest where people are not going to our universities because of the uncertainty in the state budget,” the mayor said.
Emanuel noted that Chicago has more universities than any other cities with the exception of Boston. Chicago is also home to two national labs as well as leading law schools, business schools and engineering schools.
“But, our state, because of the uncertainty around a budget, is basically telling university students, ‘Don’t apply to UIC. Don’t apply to Northern Illinois. Don’t apply to Western [Illinois] because, who knows what tomorrow will be like,’ ” the mayor said.
Rauner will deliver his third budget address on Wednesday.
He has said he’ll offer up a similar budget proposal as last year, when he gave the General Assembly two options: work with him on getting a balanced budget or give him the power to make his own cuts.
On Friday, the governor told the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board that he would break his silence about which measures of the 12-bill “grand bargain” package being pushed by Il. Senate leaders that he supports.
“I will be very clear about what we should do,” Rauner said of his budget address.
As for the Senate leaders’ effort, Rauner’s administration on Friday confirmed the governor will “provide principles he supports” during his budget address. Still, aides noted he will be careful not to disrupt the ongoing talks.