As the city and state approach financial doomsdays, Mayor Emanuel evaded budget-fix specifics at a 20 minute post-Council press conference Wednesday. The state’s budget deadline is July 1, and Chicago Public Schools owe a $624M payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund by June 30.
There’s been talk in City Hall of the city making a partial payment of $200M to the Teachers’ Pension Fund, but the Mayor deflected requests for confirmation, blaming Springfield. “Obviously, deadlines have the ability to focus people’s minds. I do think as it relates to CPS… a lot of the challenges are the structural inequities that are built into the system.” He says the state spends $2,200 per student outside Chicago, and only $177 on Chicago students.
“Springfield has to step up and help in this case, as it relates to not just the pension payment, the educational opportunities of our children,” he said, refusing to confirm if the city would submit a partial payment, whether a deal was being struck with Springfield, or if bankruptcy was an option for CPS. “What’s bankrupt are the taxing and funding ideas of the state,” he said.
Ald. Pat O’Connor (40), an Emanuel ally, has echoed the mayor’s line on inequality between city and state school funding. At a City Club breakfast last week, he floated the idea of combining state and city pensions, “so we’re all in the same boat.”
The Mayor also drew attention to the city’s own budget negotiations, in a week where several aldermen have pitched their own solutions, from an income tax to ending free trash pickup at big residential buildings. He said Wednesday he’d move up the release of the city’s budget to September, and has asked all aldermen to propose their own ideas for this year’s markup.
Other tidbits from the presser:
On the Crain’s Editorial Board calling for Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to step down: “I would remind everybody under his tenure, overall crime in the city of Chicago is down by about 31-32%. Last year, we had a record low homicide rate in the city of Chicago, historically, since the early 60’s. And what I would say is not only does he have my full confidence, we should focus on the challenges the city has, which are both easy access to guns and the easy access repeat offenders have to those guns. That’s where the solution is.”
On the Blackhawk’s celebration being held at Soldier Field instead of Grant Park: “I’m not responsible, although only you and my mother would agree that I was responsible for the rain the other day. And it would rip it up in a way that would create millions and millions of dollars in damage.” He announced there’ll be screens outside Soldier Field for overflow crowds. A couple hours later, the city announced it would double the size of the parade route. Those that missed the lightning fast sale of rally tickets can buy (possibly scam) tickets on Craigslist and Ebay.