CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite a massive budget hole and no apparent way to fill it, the Chicago Board of Education was set to vote Wednesday on an operating budget for the Chicago Public Schools for the current school year.
Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed $215 million in pension relief that CPS had baked into its budget for this year. He said he vetoed the measure because it was not tied to a larger agreement on state pension reforms.
The move came as the school board was preparing to vote on a revised budget for the school year to factor in the cost of the new contract with the Chicago Teachers Union. The district has said the four-year cost of its contract with teachers totals about $9.5 billion, including $55 million in added expenses this school year, which will be covered by surplus tax increment financing money.
The district has yet to come up with a way to make up for the loss of the $215 million in pension relief from the state. Even so, the board has said it must vote on a revised budget Wednesday to account for the cost of the teachers’ contract.
Before the 10:30 a.m. board meeting, the Chicago Teachers Union has organized a protest at 9 a.m. to ask Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the school board to denounce Rauner and figure out a way to get back the $215 million he vetoed for CPS.
The mayor already has denounced the governor’s veto, calling it “reckless and irresponsible.”
“Make no mistake, it’s our children who will pay the price. The governor is lashing out, imperiling the system-wide gains earned by Chicago students and teachers, and proving just the latest example of his willingness to put the burden of his failures on the backs of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, whether it’s schoolchildren, college students, seniors, or those living with disabilities. This is no way to run a state.”
Although the Illinois Senate quickly voted to override Rauner’s veto last Thursday, the House adjourned without taking up the veto. A spokesman for Speaker Michael Madigan said Democrats did not have the votes to override the veto, but said securing the pension relief for CPS is “an area of continued interest.” The House has until Dec. 16 to vote.
Rauner has said he is still willing to reinstate the money he nixed for CPS as part of a broader state budget deal, but only if it’s part of a “comprehensive package” for pension reform.