Emanuel Calls Rauner’s Latest Thompson Center Plan ‘Political Stunt’

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday scoffed at Gov. Bruce Rauner’s offer to dedicate all future property tax revenue from a sale of the Thompson Center to help fund the Chicago Public Schools.

The mayor has blocked efforts to sell the Thompson Center, insisting the city must not be held financially responsible for rebuilding the CTA Blue Line subway station inside as part of any major redevelopment of the site.

Emanuel was not impressed with the governor’s plan to give all future property tax revenue from any redevelopment of the Thompson Center to CPS.

“This is a political stunt,” the mayor said.

Gov. Rauner threw his support behind Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s bill, which would require all property taxes collected after the sale of the Thompson Center, or whatever’s built on the site, to go to CPS only.

Because the Thompson Center is a public building, the state does not pay any property taxes for the site. According to the governor’s office, if the property were sold, dedicating future tax revenue exclusively to CPS would generate up to $45 million a year for the cash-strapped district.

“When this building is sold, that all the new tax revenue coming from this building doesn’t go into other government bureaucracy, doesn’t go into other government entities, it goes to Chicago Public Schools,” Rauner said.

City officials noted any property tax revenue from the sale of the Thompson Center would be years off, after something new is built on the property that is sol

Emanuel also noted Rauner vetoed legislation to provide CPS with $215 million in pension relief.

“If you really in your interest in helping Chicago Public Schools, you would have signed the pension bill that would have funded and created pension parity, rather than dual taxation for Chicago residents,” he said.

The mayor also slammed Rauner for the state budget stalemate that has dragged on for nearly two years, while the Republican governor and Democratic lawmakers have clashed over Rauner’s so-called “Turnaround Agenda.”

“I would say to the governor, ‘I know a political act and a stunt when I see one, as you do. You’re now all of a sudden interested in the Thompson Center? Present a balanced budget after 22 months of not once presenting a balanced budget, not once fully funding education,’” he said.

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