CHICAGO (CBS) –- Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his new schools CEO took a knife to the Chicago Public Schools budget Thursday, but they also took a shot at state government for making the financial crisis worse.
Emanuel says the state of Illinois owes the Chicago system $300 million, nearly half of CPS’s $720 million budget deficit.
The mayor’s remarks came as he and his CPS boss, J.C. Brizard, announced $75 million in budget cuts, ranging from central office lay-offs to a reduction in custodial services. Emanuel said he was trying to avoid taking money from the classroom.
Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who writes the checks, says her office is sitting on $4 billion in unpaid bills. She’s not sure when Chicago will get that $300 million in school aid.
“I’m gonna try within the course of maybe six months if I can,” Topinka told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.
Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn had an animated conversation at Millennium Park on Thursday, with the governor admitting they were talking about money for education, among other things. Quinn insisted that the money is there to pay Chicago’s school bill.
“I have a plan to do that, we have the revenue to cover that – it’s called restructuring,” Quinn said.
Topinka scoffed at the idea.
“’Restructure’ is another word for borrowing, and borrowing is just an easy way out and it basically cannot go on because it gets us deeper into debt,” she said.
Lawmakers in Springfield rejected the governor’s restructuring plan.
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Topinka’s office says Chicago schools did get $100 million this past month alone. But the comptroller’s office says the timing of the rest of the money due will depend on several factors, including the economy and other bills that have to be paid first.
Contributing: CBS 2 Political Editor Ed Marshall