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Garcia questions sincerity of Emanuel opposition to Rauner budget

Mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia on Thursday questioned the sincerity of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s opposition to the devastating state budget cuts proposed by the mayor’s longtime friend, Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“He and Rauner are good friends. They apparently share expensive wines together. They talk on a very regular basis. I’m sure the mayor had advanced notice that these cuts were coming down. The mayor should have ensured that the governor wouldn’t have the audacity to even think about draconian cuts,” Garcia said.

“I don’t think he’s fighting for Chicago like he needs to be. . . . He’s gonna have a hard time explaining to people that he didn’t know these things were happening and he was unable to prevent the cuts. He needs to show he’s really for defending vulnerable populations that would be devastated. This is his friend. They go back a long time. He needs to leverage all the power that he has to ensure these cuts are mitigated.”

During a Loop rally organized by Grassroots Illinois Action, Garcia demanded that the Democratic-controlled General Assembly checkmate the rookie Republican governor and replace every one of the devastating cuts with new revenue.

Pressed for specifics, Garcia talked about everything from a graduated income tax and making permanent the recently expired state income tax hike to an idea championed by both Rauner and Emanuel: broadening the sales tax umbrella to an array of services not now covered.

The so-called “millionaire” tax proposed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and a financial transaction tax on La Salle Street exchanges should also be on the table, Garcia said.

That’s a tax now prohibited by state and federal law; Emanuel adamantly opposes such a tax, fearing it might push the exchanges to leave Chicago, turning the financial district into a ghost town.

Emanuel and Rauner are longtime friends, education reform allies and former business associates who made millions together. Their families have vacationed together.

Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner outside the Paradise Valley Grill near Livingston, Montana, in 2010.  | David S. Lewis/Montana Pioneer

Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner outside the Paradise Valley Grill near Livingston, Montana, in 2010. | David S. Lewis/Montana Pioneer

But, that didn’t stop Emanuel from accusing his pal of balancing his first state budget on the backs of early childhood education, mass transit and by cutting Chicago’s already-diminished share of the state income tax.

With a state-mandated, $550 million payment due in December to shore up police and fire pensions, Emanuel said Chicago cannot afford to take a $125 million hit to the “local distributive share” of state income taxes. That’s the same pot of money that was cut just a few years ago.

“I understand the need for change. I understand the need for reform. Start with the tax code. . . . There’s a bunch of corporate giveaways and corporate loopholes. . . . But do not think you’re gonna do this — not only on the backs of families and children, but on the resources that . . . pay for our police and firefighters and first responders,” the mayor said.

Despite the mayor’s break with the governor over the budget, Garcia tried again Thursday to tie Emanuel and Rauner together at the hip.

The Garcia campaign issued a press release accusing Emanuel of authorizing “over $100 million in public dollar giveaways to some of his most wealthy, powerful and politically connected allies, including donors he shares with Rauner.”

And after the rally, Garcia talked about the philosophy that Emanuel and Rauner share of reducing the size of government, eliminating mental health and other services that the “most vulnerable” depend on, and balancing the budget “on the backs of working people” through devastating cuts and regressive fees, fines and taxes.

“There’s a lot of pay-to-play. It’s the powerful folks [who]  are driving the agenda to cut people off, to not address the needs of the most vulnerable populations in Illinois. This is part of an ideology of the rich and powerful. They have much in common,” Garcia said, referring to Rauner and Emanuel.