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CPS and the mayor are fighting with others over state money that doesn’t exist

Thursday, Sep 29, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* We talked about this escalating conflict yesterday, but here’s an update from the Sun-Times

Chicago’s Board of Education on Wednesday narrowly approved key steps toward the construction of a Near South Side high school despite significant opposition from even the strongest advocates for a new neighborhood school.

The school board in a 4-3 vote opted to move forward with leasing former public housing land from the Chicago Housing Authority to build a high school and to acquire another nearby parcel for the CHA in exchange. The district will also ask the city’s Public Building Commission to begin designing the school.

The rare split vote came after heavy debate about the need, viability and fiscal responsibility of the project. Several board members questioned the speed with which the city is attempting to push forward the proposal, with one calling the decision to proceed a “misuse of public money.” […]

State Rep. Theresa Mah, a Chicago Democrat, made waves this week when she said she would block $50 million in state funding for the project that she had pushed through the General Assembly two years ago. Long a supporter of an open-enrollment high school for Near South residents, Mah said the city has not taken genuine community concerns into consideration. She accused Lightfoot and CPS of “manufacturing” support for the school.

I asked the governor’s people this morning what Gov. Pritzker will do with the disputed state funds. But, as it turns out, there’s no public money to “misuse.”

* From Jordan Abudayyeh at the governor’s office…

Capital projects are generally funded through the issuance of state bonds. To ensure that Illinois continues its improving fiscal trajectory, this administration also requires that capital bonds are backed by a specific revenue source, so that they can be paid back in a predictable and stable manner.

The authority to issue bonds is granted by the General Assembly, and requires a vote of 3/5 of the members.

In the case of this project, the General Assembly included the appropriation for the project but not the bonding authority in legislation. Until the administration has the needed bond authority or other source of revenue, this project is not funded.

So, while there is an official state appropriation, there’s no actual state money for CPS to spend because no bonding was authorized. It’s kinda like writing a check to pay off a bill and never mailing it because the bank account doesn’t exist.

All of this bitter infighting is over nada.

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10 Comments
  1. - Sox Fan - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 12:54 pm:

    Did either the mayor or the rep know the funding wasn’t available? Was it all performative?


  2. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 12:55 pm:

    The three worst words in the English language are, “subject to appropriation.”


  3. - Norseman - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 12:59 pm:

    Facepalm GIF


  4. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 1:01 pm:

    Perhaps they should be discussing why a district with 11 consecutive years of declining enrollment and is now the 4th largest, is building a new school and not closing the one’s that are at a fraction of their capacity

    https://chicago.chalkbeat.org/2022/9/28/23377565/chicago-school-enrollment-miami-dade-third-largest?_amp=true


  5. - Huh? - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 1:15 pm:

    Oops.


  6. - low level - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 2:07 pm:

    ==not closing the one’s that are at a fraction of their capacity==

    As usual, LP, you are either 1) clueless or 2) not paying attention.
    It is the fear that nearby schools with declining enrollment would be closed once the new school is built that is creating much of the opposition. Also, if you knew anything about the area you’d know that this is the one part of the city gaining in population.


  7. - Closing Schools - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:31 pm:

    @LP CPS can’t close schools anyway until the elected school board is seated. There was a moratorium on school closings built in the elected school board bill.


  8. - Shytown - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:42 pm:

    this is about adult personalities/self-interest and not about what’s in the best interest of the students, as usual.


  9. - low level - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:35 pm:

    ==not about what’s in the best interest of the students, as usual.==

    Oh? Chinatown has been asking for a new open enrollment high school for 40+ years. Rep Mah mentioned that when she first sought the funding in 2020.


  10. - DuPage - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:39 pm:

    ===It’s kinda like writing a check to pay off a bill and never mailing it because the bank account doesn’t exist===

    It kinda reminds me of the state dental insurance for SURS retirees. My dentist finally got the oldest bill paid, after about 77 weeks.


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