CHICAGO (CBS) — A West Side democrat wants to tap targeted state funds to help the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools stay open through the end of the school year.
With CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool warning schools might have to close on June 1 – about three weeks early – without more state funding, state Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) has suggested using “fund sweeps” to provide the money the district needs.
“We have $9.8 billion of funds that’s sitting in special funds, so we’re trying to pass that bill to send to the Chicago Public Schools,” he said.
A fund sweep is a budget tactic to use money specifically devoted to things such as specialty license plates or the Illinois Arts Council for something else. Some Democrats have proposed using millions of those targeted dollars to help out public universities and other groups as the state approaches two years without a budget.
Ford wants to direct some of the money available through fund sweeps to CPS, after Gov. Bruce Rauner last year vetoed a measure to provide the district with $215 million in pension aid, blowing a hole in the CPS budget.
“$215 million is needed to keep the schools open for the duration of the school year, so that will be our focus to try to pass some funding bills to send to CPS so that they could remain open,” he said.
Rauner has criticized fund sweeps in the past, calling them part of “broken budgets” and stopgap spending.
Fund sweeps have been a popular maneuver as lawmakers look to special accounts for targeted items, and use the money to shore up general state operations as the budget stalemate continues.