SPRINGFIELD - Both Illinois legislative chambers are in session Wednesday, just hours away from the June 30th midnight deadline when Illinois could enter into its unprecedented second year without an agreed-upon budget.
The Democrats are blaming Governor Rauner and the Republicans are blaming Mike Madigan for no resolution satisfactory to all sides. They're trying a last ditch effort to pass a short term budget that will get the state through until after the November election - the time when Democrat leadership has said they expect a budget to pass.
State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) made his thoughts on the impasse public earlier this week with this statement posted on his website, and he points to yet a third culprit as the real problem: Chicago politicians (which happen to include House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton ... as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel).
Almost every measure has been worked out and agreed on, except for a stopgap budget; one that will keep road construction projects going, fund human services, support higher education, and keep the lights on at state facilities. The only hold up in the 11th hour is House Speaker Mike Madigan’s demand for another $400 million for Chicago schools.
Keep in mind that in the stopgap budget Republican lawmakers introduced, we agreed to give Chicago schools a $75 million dollar increase over what the funding formula says they need. This despite the fact that their student count has dropped by approximately 6,000 since 2014. Under the normal school formula, that would have called for a reduction in funding. Yet this $75 million extra is not enough for Chicago!
Understand that Madigan’s proposed budget to give $400 million more to Chicago schools will likely mean that every homeowner in Illinois, outside of Chicago, will pay even higher property taxes!
Here are some more facts that make another bailout even more frustrating:
- Chicago School District represents 19% of the students in Illinois. They currently get 34% of the State’s education budget.
- Chicago has the lowest residential property taxes in the state; about 1/3 of what residents in Winnebago County pay.
- Chicago has never had a referendum to fund their own schools.
- The last contract agreement made with the Chicago teachers union was one of the largest in the nation at that time and made them arguably the highest paid in the nation.
- The Chicago School District has lost approximately 22,000 students in the last 10 years and experts told them they needed to close 100 schools. The local leaders, however, refused to close the necessary schools needed to save money.
- When Chicago Schools were given more control of their pension program in the mid 90’s, it was 100% funded. Their leaders chose to skip pension payments and instead use those dollars to fund pay and benefit increases. Now their pensions are down to approximately 50% and they are asking for more revenue.
Chicago schools have financial problems of their own creation! We already give them more than they should legitimately receive and I stand with the governor to say NO MORE. We are willing to help Chicago solve their problems but not at the expense of the rest of the families in Illinois.
If the stopgap budget falls apart this week it won't be because of the Governor or the Republican legislators. It will be due to Chicago leaders trying to blackmail Illinois taxpayers to feed their insatiable hunger for more irresponsible spending.”