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Preckwinkle dubs Rauner ‘profoundly inept … mean-spirited’ … ‘evil’

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle met with the Sun-Times Editorial Board to discuss the budget last year. File Photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Gov. Bruce Rauner has endured his share of criticism since taking office, but Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle raised the bar in a radio interview this week dubbing the embattled Republican governor “evil.”

In a discussion about Rauner’s promise to veto a school funding bill that he has called a “Chicago bailout,” Preckwinkle called the governor “profoundly inept and mean-spirited.”

“I’ve lived in Chicago for 50 years. In that time Jim Thompson was governor, Jim Edgar, George Ryan. I disagreed with them sometimes, but I never thought they were unfit for their jobs or evil people. That’s where I am with this governor, and it’s profoundly disturbing,” Preckwinkle said in an interview with WLS-AM’s Bill Cameron, to be aired on Sunday’s “Connected to Chicago.”

Cameron asked Preckwinkle, who is also a ward committeeman with the Cook County Democratic Party, if she really meant “evil.”

“Yes, this is a person who cut funding for autism programs on National Autism Day,” Preckwinkle said.

The governor’s administration in early April 2015 suspended $26 million in grants to human services and public health programs — including autism treatment programs — to try to plug a $1.6 billion budget hole. But weeks later he reinstated the funds, with the administration saying the money came from “higher-than-anticipated revenue projections.”

Rauner has spent much of this week urging Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to send him the school funding reform bill immediately — so he can immediately delete the part of it that sends some $220 million to Chicago Public Schools for teacher pensions. The administration said he plans to issue an amendatory veto to remove the CPS funds and give the money to “almost every” school district in Illinois.

Without a school funding bill signed soon, Illinois schools won’t get state money that is needed to open in time this fall.

CPS, the only district in the state that funds teacher pensions from local tax revenue instead of state contributions, would get about $300 million total. CPS officials have denied the bill is a “CPS bailout,” saying it provides 268 Illinois districts with more money than CPS stands to receive and was designed to dole out money more equitably.

The Rauner administration could not be reached for comment about Preckwinkle’s statements.