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Rauner’s CPS takeover proposal is a distraction from his failures

1/20/2016

Republican leaders in Springfield carried the water for Governor Rauner again today when they announced his plan for a state takeover of Chicago Public Schools.

Although no legislation has been introduced, Rauner’s “lifeline” measures would allow CPS to declare bankruptcy and create a state-appointed oversight board. The state would assume financial responsibility for Illinois largest school district, which currently faces a $500 million budget deficit and has threatened thousands of teacher layoffs.

The Governor’s proposals beg an obvious question: Why would anyone trust Rauner to run CPS when he has done such a disastrous job operating our state for the last year?

As the state enters a seventh month without a budget — and critical social services and higher education for thousands of students are in real jeopardy — let’s be perfectly clear:

In advance of next week’s State of the State address, this stunt was meant only to distract people from the Governor’s complete failure to fulfill his primary responsibility: to enact a state budget.

“The governor has forced the state into a financial crisis, and now he wants to take over one of the biggest public school systems in the nation,” said State Senator and Education Committee Chair Willie Delgado.

Leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union, IFT Local 1, agree and flatly rejected the idea.

“Since the governor was elected, government in Illinois has ground to a halt, and this proposal is just the latest example of the ‘bull in a china shop’ methods in which he clumsily attempts to lead. A call for Springfield to assume responsibility of the finances of Chicago Public Schools is a non-starter when state government has so far been unable to assume responsibility for its own budget.”

A non-starter indeed. The proposal appears dead on arrival.

Senate President John Cullerton indicated he won’t consider the Governor’s “ridiculous” “mean-spirited” and “far-fetched" distraction, while House Speaker Michael Madigan had this to say:

"Seven months into a new fiscal year, the state still has no budget under Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, and it’s because he’s more interested in driving down the wages and standard of living of middle-class families than working together to solve our state’s problems.”

Madigan went on to compare Rauner’s power play to the recent disaster in Flint, Michigan, where a reckless takeover decision by Republican leaders to save a buck in fact created a life-threatening, public health crisis which could have been averted.

Here in Illinois, rather than serving our communities and the needs of working families, our irresponsible Governor has repeatedly tried to strong-arm lawmakers into enacting components of his harmful "Turnaround Agenda."

It’s not working. It's time for Governor Rauner to stop holding the state hostage and drop his obsessive personal agenda against unions. It’s time to address the real issues facing our state, and that’s what we’ll be calling for at next week’s address. Stay tuned.


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