CHICAGO (CBS) — After cancelling two previous briefings for aldermen, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday will outline his plan for filling the $129 million budget shortfall at the Chicago Public Schools.
Emanuel has not yet explained how he will keep CPS open through the end of the school year without financial help from the state, but the mayor’s office said there would be no new taxes, and no cuts to classrooms.
The mayor was expected to hold the first of a series of briefings with aldermen at about 11 a.m. Friday.
According to published reports, the Emanuel administration plans to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars more to keep schools open through the end of the school year, and make a massive teachers’ pension payment at the end of June.
CPS has a $129 million budget shortfall, and the state is late in making $467 million in grant payments to the district.
“The state of Illinois is the largest deadbeat in the state of Illinois. They’re behind on payments not just to the Chicago Public Schools, they’re behind on payments to our universities and institutions of higher learning. A number of them now have been downgraded financially to junk, not because the education isn’t good, it’s because the state’s not paying their bills,” the mayor said.
Emanuel is still holding out hope state lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner will come up with a plan to send CPS more money.
Emanuel’s borrowing plan would allow the district to make a required contribution of more than $700 million to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, due on June 30, while also keeping schools open through the end of the school year on June 20.
Interest rates on any money borrowed would be especially high, since the city’s credit rating is already at junk bond levels.
The mayor said the governor and the state have been sticking it to Chicago’s schools.
“You know, it’s in the constitution that the state of Illinois is supposed to be the primary funder of education. I expect them to live up to their responsibility,” he said.
The governor’s office responded ahead of the mayor’s briefings with aldermen by going on the offensive.
“Instead of engaging with leaders and lawmakers to find solutions to this crisis, the mayor continuously chooses to lay blame on others instead of taking responsibility for his own massive failure of governance,” spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said in an email. “While the mayor is pointing fingers at Springfield, he’s running a city with crumbling infrastructure, a school system in crisis and violence that affects every neighborhood in Chicago. It’s apparent that this mayor of mismanagement is avoiding responsibility as a means to distract from the failures of his own leadership.”