CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he’s looking at some hard choices when it comes to finding funds to keep the Chicago Public Schools open without additional help from the state.
Emanuel, who has said he’s proud of having eliminated the city’s controversial “head tax” on most businesses, insisted he would consider reinstating it to help shore up CPS. He said that’s because the state owes the district $467 million in aid this year, because of a delay in block grants amid the two-year budget impasse in Springfield.
The City Council voted to phase out the much-maligned $4-per-employee monthly head tax on companies with 50 or more employees in 2011. A group of 18 aldermen has proposed legislation that would create an even higher $33-per-employee monthly head tax, with the money going to CPS.
“We have to look at everything, and the most important thing, and the hardest challenge – this is not, I’m not looking for any tears on this – is the biggest piece of the puzzle is what is the state of Illinois going to do?” the mayor said.
A spokeswoman for the Rauner administration blamed Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza, an ally of the mayor, claiming she can process payments to CPS when she chooses.
However, a Mendoza spokesman said the comptroller can’t make more payments without a state budget, and he accused Rauner of blaming Mendoza for not writing checks on an account he emptied.
Emanuel pointed the finger at Rauner.
“I understand that the governor wants to blame Susana Mendoza, wants to blame the speaker, wants to blame the senate president, wants to blame me, wants to blame the Supreme Court. I would like him to do his job,” he said.
Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said the CPS financial crisis is not a result of the state budget stalemate, but decades of fiscal mismanagement.