CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of the Chicago Public Schools has warned Illinois lawmakers schools won’t open in the fall if the state doesn’t approve an education button.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool told CBS 2 that CPS and many other districts in Illinois would be unable to open in fall if Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly cannot agree on some type of budget deal and approve funding for public schools across the state.
Lawmakers were unable to agree on a spending plan for next year before the end of the spring session earlier this week. The state has been operating without a budget for 11 months. Last year, Rauner vetoed the bulk of the state budget approved by the Democratic-led legislature, but approved legislation to fund elementary and high schools; this year, lawmakers could not even agree on a state budget for public schools.
According to Claypool, there are two major problems for schools in Chicago: CPS is low on cash, and the bond market is no longer readily accessible for the cash-strapped district to borrow money due to its junk credit ratings.
Rauner was quick to blame Democrats for the Illinois General Assembly’s inability to pass a state budget – specifically pointing the finger at House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.
“Madigan and Cullerton don’t want reforms. They want to try to force a massive tax hike after the election, in January, without reforms. That is wrong. We can’t let that happen,” Rauner said.
The governor said Madigan and Cullerton want the rest of the state to bail out Chicago’s schools, and he called on voters to urge lawmakers to support his plan to increase overall state education spending by $55 million.
“We are fundamentally in decline, because of the control of Speaker Madigan and his Democrats. And we’ve got to get the folks here in Champaign County, and in Sangamon County, and throughout the state to stand up and vote for their districts; not for Speaker Madigan, and John Cullerton, and the Chicago political machine that they are loyal to. We need our General Assembly to be loyal to the people in Illinois, not to the people in the Chicago political machine,” Rauner at an event in downstate Mahomet on Wednesday.
Claypool criticized Rauner for trying to pit different parts of the state against each other.
CPS officials have said Rauner’s plan to fund schools would mean a $74 million cut in the district’s funding, forcing cuts of about 26 percent.
Democratic lawmakers have said Rauner knows CPS has 20 percent of the state’s students, but receives only 15 percent of state funding for public schools, and the governor refuses to change the education funding formula. They also noted the state funds teacher pensions for every school district in Illinois, except for Chicago.