* Paris had the scoop…
“Chicago Tonight” has learned that Gov. Bruce Rauner and top Republican leaders are planning to introduce legislation aimed at an emergency financial takeover of the city of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. This comes in light of an imminent $500 million shortfall within the Chicago Public Schools system.
The Republican leaders are set to announce the legislation tomorrow, but Paris Schutz has the exclusive information tonight.
Sources tell “Chicago Tonight” that the governor and his top two legislative leaders – Senate minority leader Christine Radogno and House minority leader Jim Durkin will file a package of legislation Wednesday that would allow for an emergency financial oversight board appointed by the state to take over the financially strapped school district. Other legislation would allow for emergency financial oversight of the credit-beleaguered city of Chicago.
Legislation would also allow for CPS and the city of Chicago to declare bankruptcy – something by law both cannot currently do.
We’re also told that the legislation would call for an elected Chicago Public Schools board once the financial situation is remediated. This, in light of the fact that CPS has set now as a deadline to receive $500 million in relief from the state or else lay off thousands of employees, including teachers.
“The mayor is 100 percent opposed to Gov. Rauner’s ‘plan’ to drive CPS bankrupt. If the governor was serious about helping Chicago students, he should start by proposing — and passing — a budget that fully funds education and treats CPS students like every other child in the state,” Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said in a statement Tuesday.
Radogno brought up the bankruptcy option on last weekend’s “Sunday Spin” radio show on WGN-AM 720. Declaring bankruptcy would allow the district to ditch its union contracts, which dovetails with Rauner’s broader union-weakening push.
On Tuesday, Rauner was asked about a CPS bankruptcy bill and took shots at the mayor.
“I’m worried that the mayor is failing. The mayor gave in and caved on the (teachers) strike 41/2 years ago. Hurt the taxpayers, hurt the schoolchildren as a result. I’m very concerned about the trajectory of where we’re going with CPS. And right now, the mayor’s only real message to the state government is ‘Hey, we failed financially our schoolchildren, send us half a billion dollars. That’s not a reasonable position for the mayor to take,’” Rauner told reporters.
* Forrest Claypool’s react…
“The governor is defending a school funding system that is separate but unequal. Our children are facing systematic discrimination. CPS represents 20 percent of state enrollment but gets just 15 percent of state funding, even though 86 percent of our children live in poverty. The missing 5 percent represents nearly $500 million, the exact amount of our budget gap. Our children’s futures are just as important as those in the suburbs and downstate. But the state does not value them equally.”
Rauner is in the midst of a political war with Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, whose spokesman Tuesday night likened the takeover proposal to the state of Michigan’s takeover of Flint, Michigan which is now in the midst of a water lead poisoning crisis.
“I would say that anybody worried about state takeovers should look at Flint, that’s what takeovers look like,” Brown told POLITICO. “That may be the template you may want to use when you evaluate whether it’s a good idea to take over. Look at what happened to the people in Flint and try not to repeat mistakes.”
The school proposal would include a provision that would apply state oversight rules to Chicago schools if the district falls below a certain financial threshold, sources say. Under state law, school boards can be removed and replaced by the state board when that happens. CPS was exempt from the oversight, but the proposal would remove that exemption.
Um, but as that article points out, the General Assembly passed a bill last year to do just that.
* One of the bill’s Democratic sponsors talked to Greg Hinz…
Specifically, I’m told, the package offered by the two top Republicans would extend to Chicago a measure authored by Sen. Heather Steans that allows the state to intervene in and effectively run troubled downstate and suburban districts. Such a move would be initiated by an independent review panel appointed by the State Board of Education.
The bankruptcy measure likely would be in separate legislation. Local units of government are not allowed to file for bankruptcy under current state law, but a pending GOP bill in the House would allow cities and villages to file.
Steans, in a phone call, confirmed that her takeover bill last year excluded CPS, which has been treated differently than other districts since lawmakers turned control over to then-Mayor Richard M. Daley a generation ago.
Steans said her view of a state takeover of CPS might depend on whether it came with additional state aid, but said bankruptcy would be “insane,” potentially undoing gains in CPS performance in recent years. “You’d have a much harder time fixing the schools” under a bankruptcy filing, she contended.
That bill is here.
* I’m told that Radogno and Durkin could claim today that the legislation is the result of anxious constituents who worry that the city and CPS will drag the state down. The press conference is at 9:30. I’ll have live coverage.