<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Political News and Chicago Politics]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:56:56 -0500 Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:56:56 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[2016 Hopefuls Flood NH for July 4 Weekend]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 15:33:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP136093298170.jpg

Presidential hopefuls are going on parade throughout the Granite State this July 4. 

At least seven 2016 candidates will spend Independence Day courting residents who will vote in the nation's first presidential primary contest next year, according to scheduled logged in necn's 2016 New Hampshire Primary Candidate Tracker, making a combined 14 stops.

While parades are by far the most popular stops during the holiday tour — at least 11 such appearances are expected — candidates' Saturday calendars also include breakfasts, cookouts and grassroots events. Revelers along the routes in Amherst and Merrimack will watch no fewer than three candidates strut by. The resort town of Wolfeboro, where 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney owns a home, will be greeted by at least two GOP hopefuls.

For some candidates, one parade just isn't enough. Republicans Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Perry, as well as Democrat Lincoln Chafee, are marching in two apiece. Perry, the former Texas governor, appears to have the busiest public schedule on Saturday so far, stopping by parades in Amherst and Merrimack before greeting crowds at the Windham GOP July Fourth Cookout later in the day.

The holiday hand-shaking isn't limited to July 4 itself. Christie, New Jersey's Republican governor, has been barnstorming the state since making his official entry into the race on Tuesday, including several events on Friday. Perry and Democrat Hillary Clinton are also getting their patriotic partying started early with Friday events, while former New York Gov. George Pataki and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both candidates for the GOP nomination, will join New Hampshire residents wishing America a belated birthday with Sunday celebrations.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Peas in Guacamole? Obama Weighs in on Twitter Debate ]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:15:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/guacamole-GettyImages-456804252.gif

President Barack Obama has a message for The New York Times: please don't pass the peas.

Into the guacamole, at least. 

The president joined the online masses piling on the newspaper on Wednesday afternoon following a much-retweeted story suggesting "adding fresh English peas" to the popular avocado dip.

The tweet sparked cries of culinary foul from users, gaining hundreds of retweets in the process. The Times' public editor even suggested that the backlash could rival the "Minnesota Grape Salad outcry" that hit after the paper listed the obscure recipe as a state favorite. 

When asked about the suggestion during an #ASKPotus Twitter chat Wednesday, the president suggested he'll stick to a more traditional recipe. 

First lady Michelle Obama, a vocal advocate of incorporating more green veggies into daily diets, has yet to weigh in. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Donald Trump: "I Don't Think It Matters If I'm Nice"]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:17:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/donald-trump-univision-pone-fin-a-relacion-comercial.jpg

Donald Trump spoke in New Hampshire Tuesday night- just one day after getting dumped by NBC Universal and Univision due to his comments about Mexican immigrants.

"They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists," Trump said during his presidential run kick-off speech.

If you thought Trump would apologize for his comments at his first public appearance since the controversy at a pool-side reception in Bedford, New Hampshire, you'd be wrong. He brought research he said he had done to support his earlier statements.

"I mentioned the word 'rape.' I felt oh, maybe, you know, maybe there's never been a rape. Maybe there's never been a problem. Maybe there's never been a crime," Trump began. "To me, it's impossible to almost believe — 80 percent of Central American women and girls are raped crossing into the United States."

In addition, Trump stirred it up on the topics of Univision and NBC. He announced that he is suing Univision for $500 million for dropping the Miss Universe Pageant that Trump runs.

"What NBC and Univision did to these young women is disgraceful," he said.

Trump spoke for more than an hour, at one point defending himself against critics who say he's not nice.

"I don't think it matters if I'm nice or not, because I really believe this is going to be an election that's based on competence."

On the word that Trump weighs in at number two to Jeb Bush in the latest New Hampshire poll, Trump was stumped.

"It's hard to believe I'm second to Bush," Trump said. "Because Bush is not going to get us to the promised land, folks."

The Republican presidential candidate has made 14 stops in New Hampshire so far ahead of the 2016 primary. 

<![CDATA[Illinois House Adjourns Without Passing State Budget]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:04:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gov-rauner-state-of-state-AP158998087671.jpg

Hours before the midnight deadline to pass a state budget and avoid a government shutdown, the Illinois House adjourned without making a budget deal.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic controlled House have been at a stalemate for weeks concerning the budget plan, and they will now begin planning a temporary fix.

"Tomorrow we will offer what we call an 'essential services' budget. It will be a one-month budget," House Speaker Michael Madigan said during a press conference.

It's unclear if Madigan's budget plan will pass or whether the governor will veto it.

"I am disappointed and frustrated with the General Assembly," Rauner said.

With the failure to pass a budget come several potential budget cuts affecting residents across Illinois. This includes cuts to a variety of state services, from juvenile detention facilities and state museums to programs receiving state funding to help children, the elderly and the disabled.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he will make a plan to ensure state workers continue to be paid in the case of a shutdown. A letter obtained by The Associated Press shows that Rauner's personnel agency concluded that he should continue paying state employees full wages during a budget impasse.

The governor also signed a bill last week allowing funds to flow to the state's schools, ensuring they remain open and teachers are paid this fall. The measure increases K-12 education spending by $244 million and early child education funding by $25 million.

Earlier this month Rauner outlined his plans in case of a shutdown. Among the departments that  could face big cuts are the Departments of Children and Family Services, Human Services, Healthcare and Family Services, Juvenile Justice and Employment Security.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[CPS Makes Full $634 Million Pension Payment]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:36:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-84224381.jpg

Chicago Public Schools made the full payment of $634 million to the teachers' pension fund before the midnight deadline, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Madigan said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon that he heard reliably that the district would be able to make the payment. His statement came after the sponsor of a bill to extend the deadline for payment said she would not call a vote because she didn't "have the votes" to pass the legislation.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel previously said Chicago Public Schools was at a "breaking point" and did not have the money to make the payment.

It is not clear how the district made the payment and where the money came from.

<![CDATA[Ill. Government Shutdown Looms as Budget Deadline Nears]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 23:24:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner+city+council+address.jpg

Time is running out for Illinois legislators to pass a budget before opening up the possibility of the first state government shutdown in Illinois history.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan, as well as all the other legislators in the House, have until the end of June 30 to pass a budget.

Can Rauner and Madigan put aside their differences long enough to avoid a shutdown? Unfortunately, it does not seem likely.

Four legislative leaders met with Rauner on Monday in the hopes of firming up a budget plan, but they emerged only to report that no progress had been made. The pro-business governor wants spending cuts and business reforms, while the Democrats, including Madigan, are pushing a tax increase as well as cuts.

If the standoff lasts beyond Tuesday's deadline, Gov. Rauner has said he will work on a plan to keep state workers' paychecks coming.

Concerning Chicago Public Schools' $634 million owed to the teachers' pension fund on June 30, the Illinois House voted against a plan to delay the deadline on June 23. Another vote was planned for this week, but it is unclear if it gained sufficient backing to pass this time around. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, meanwhile, has made it clear that the school district does not have the money.

Madigan, who has stood opposite Rauner on every fiscal issue, scheduled a meeting last week with the full House on Tuesday to discuss the "Rauner shutdown," proving he is ready to fight the governor on a budget plan till the end.

Rauner, meanwhile, has been airing campaign-like advertisements attacking Madigan throughout the state for the last two weeks. He, too, does not appear to be backing down.

So how will the impasse end, if it ever ends? It could all come to a head on Tuesday, or perhaps the state will simply shut down.

<![CDATA[Trump Addresses Immigration, NBC in City Club Speech]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 21:29:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trump-Presidential-Announcement.jpg

Police, spectators, protesters and media all crowded into the space at Clark and Grand waiting for Donald Trump Monday afternoon ahead of his speech at the City Club of Chicago.

Just two weeks into his presidential run, the billionaire real estate and media mogul attracted the curious and the angry. The anger is, in part, over Trump's remarks — which he later clarified — about immigration and Mexicans.

"He called all Mexican-Americans and people whose heritage is from the continents drug dealers, criminals and rapists," said Darryl Morin of the League of Latin American Citizens during the protest.

Trump addressed the criticism during his speech at the City Club.

"First of all, I love the Mexican people," he said. "But at the same time, we have to have borders. If we don't have borders, we're essentially not a country."

City Club officials say they received 5,000 ticket requests, but only 300 were able to get inside for the event. 

Outside, protesters urged NBC to "dump Trump" as well as his program "The Apprentice" and the Miss U.S.A. and Miss Universe competitions.

In a meeting with reporters, Trump was matter-of-fact in talking about NBC's decision to sever its relationship.

"I think as far as ending the relationship, I have to do that because my view on immigration is much different than the people at NBC," Trump said following his speech at the City Club.

Trump faces his first presidential debate in August.

<![CDATA[How CPS Borrowing Plan Will Affect Taxpayers]]> Sat, 27 Jun 2015 11:57:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000013041754_1200x675_472341059615.jpg The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday voted in favor of plans to borrow more than $1 billion to help the cash-strapped school district immediately and in the coming budget year. Brian Battle from Performance Trust Capital Partners sits down with NBC Chicago's Anthony Ponce to explain what it means to the city and residents.]]> <![CDATA[Chicago Plans Celebration Events Following Gay Marriage Ruling]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:30:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP499032000419.jpg

Chicago on Friday joined cities across the country to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke at Sidetrack in the city's Boystown neighborhood as part of a "Decision Day" Celebration hosted by the bar and Lambda Legal, an organization that represents members of the gay community and people with HIV/AIDS.

"If you want to be a forward-thinking city, you cannot have a set of laws that are backwards," Emanuel said. "And when we changed Illinois, as I like to say, so goes Chicago, so goes Illinois, now so goes the country."

Illinois legislators Rep. Greg Harris, Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans also spoke at the event along with Lambda Legal attorneys and past Illinois marriage plaintiffs.

Cassidy thanked supporters and her family who she said never questioned who she is. "We grew up knowing love is love," she said.

“The City of Chicago applauds and celebrates today’s historic decision by the United States Supreme Court," Emanuel said earlier in the day. "By ruling that every American has a right to marry whomever they love regardless of where they live, today marks one of the great civil rights victories of our time."

A community speak-out co-sponsored by the Gay Liberation Network and Marriage Equality USA also is planned at 7 p.m. in front of the city's LGBT community center, the Center on Halsted.

The event is one of about 50 other celebrations sponsored by the two organizations planned across the country.

Allison Buchwach, a volunteer for Marriage Equality USA and co-organizer for the Chicago speak-out, applauded the Supreme Court's decision but warned there's more work ahead.
"For many years, the Court's 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS anti-segregation ruling didn't actually end segregation," Buchwach said. "Racists worked hard to preserve segregation and discrimination, and so it survived long after the court's decision. Anti-LGBTs will undoubtedly do the same and find ways to undermine today's Supreme Court victory. For this reason and despite today's huge victory, we must understand its limitations and remember that equality is a goal attained by remaining organized and vocal."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Hopefuls on Gay Marriage Ruling]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:36:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-478464492_PRide.jpg

The presidential candidates’ reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage broke down predictably along party lines — with Democrats tweeting about love and equality and Republicans criticizing the justices.

Hillary Clinton’s reaction was short and colorful: “HISTORY” in the rainbow colors.

Clinton came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2013 after stepping down as secretary of state. When she ran for president in 2008, she opposed gay marriage.

Martin O’Malley praised the people of Maryland for leading the way on human dignity and equality.

He tweeted a photo of then 3-year-old Will Lewis-Benson laughing between his mothers, Amy Lewis and Tricia Benson on the day the Maryland House of Delegates approved same-sex marriage in 2012.

“There’s no greater human right than love," he said.

Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee congratulated the Supreme Court for a good ruling.

And Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent running for the Democratic nomination, said the Supreme Court had fulfilled the words engraved on its building, "Equal justice under law."

"For far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community and I am very glad the Court has finally caught up to the American people," he said.

But Gov. Bobby Jindal accused the court of following opinion polls and trampling on states’ rights.

“Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that,” he said in a statement.

He predicted the ruling would open the way for an assault on the religious rights of Christians who disagree with the decision.

“The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies,” he said.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee blasted the decision as judicial tyranny and vowed he would not acquiesce to an “imperial court.”

"The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the laws of gravity,” he wrote.

Like other conservatives, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania accused the Supreme Court of redefining marriage and said leaders do not accept bad decisions that they believe would harm the country.

"The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices," he wrote in a statement.

Now the public must respond, he said.

Carly Fiorina called the court an activist one that was ignoring its constitutional duty to say what the law was, not what it should be.

She said in a statement that although she was in favor of all Americans receiving equal benefits and rights from the government, she did not believe the court could or should redefine marriage.

“I believe that responsibility should have remained with states and voters where this conversation has continued in churches, town halls and living rooms around the country,” she said.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who might run but says he has not made up his mind, said when asked at a press conference that he agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts: This was not a decision for five lawyers.

Donald Trump wrote, referring to former President George W. Bush and his brother Jeb, another  Republican presidential candidate: "Once again the Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down. Jeb pushed him hard! Remember!"

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who might run for the Republican nomination, told residents of his state that the government would not coerce them to act against their religious beliefs.

He called the decision a grave mistake.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he was disappointed with the decision. Marriage laws should be left to the states, he said.

"Our founding fathers did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench, and as president, I would appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written," he said in a statement.

Ben Carson wrote that he strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision, but that the ruling was now the law of the land. He said he supported same-sex civil unions but to him marriage was a religious service.

"I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected," he said in a statement. "The government must never force Christians to violate their religious beliefs."

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believed that the people of each state should have the right to determine their marriage laws. But he also said he would respect the court's decision.

"Furthermore, given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue, I do not believe that an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the states or a supermajority in the U.S. Congress," he said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that he believed in traditional marriage and thought that the justices should have left the decision to the states.

But he added, striking an inclusive tone, "I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the right to change marriage laws should lie with the people not the justices.

"This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years," he said.

The next president must make it a priority to nominate judges and justices who will apply the Constitution as written and originally understood, he said.

He also called for respecting those who disagree.

"A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court's decision today," he wrote. "In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA["Momentous Victory": Illinois Pols React to SCOTUS Ruling]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:52:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-478464492_PRide.jpg

Illinois politicians on Friday lauded the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling to make gay marriage legal nationwide.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the decision "marks one of the great civil rights victories of our time."

“It is a victory for America’s true values of treating everyone equally under the law," Emanuel said in a statement. "I want to thank every resident of the City of Chicago who fought to make today’s historic victory possible.”

Cook County Clerk David Orr congratulated "all advocates of equality," saying he is "thrilled" the decision was finally made.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Orr said in a statement. “For too long, same-sex couples in this country have had to wait: for state legislatures to pass marriage equality; for judges to declare that withholding this right was unconstitutional; and for voters to turn back anti-equality initiatives, just so they could marry the person they love."

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation in 2013 to make Illinois the 16th state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry. Marriage equality took effect in Illinois on June 1, 2014.

Since then more than 7,500 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in Cook County, Orr said.

“Marriage equality is the law of the land," Quinn said Friday. "Loving couples in every state can now receive the rights and protections of marriage. As I said when I signed the Illinois marriage equality law on Nov. 20, 2013, ‘Love is patient, love is kind… love never fails.’"

U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, vice-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, called the ruling a "momentous victory for LGBT Americans" but warned this doesn't end the fight for full equality.

"As we celebrate the fact that all Americans now have equal access to marriage," Quigley said, "we must not forget that much work remains to be done to ensure that no one can be denied employment, housing, public accommodation, or federal benefits because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

U.S. Congressman Robert Dold said the ruling upholds a phrase that's well known to the Supreme Court.

"Engraved on the front of the Supreme Court is the phrase ‘equal justice under the law,’" Dold said. "Today’s historic ruling upholds this pledge by affirming that we will not tolerate any law threatening our country’s obligation to treat all people equally.”  

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin called this "a great day for marriage equality and a historic day for civil rights in our country.”

“The decision by the Supreme Court affirms that same-sex couples across the nation have the right to marry whom they love and to participate fully - with their families - in the rights and responsibilities of marriage.  Another step in the march toward equal rights has been taken today.”

Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said the decision is a "victory for equal justice under law in America."

“Marriage equality is the law of the land. Loving couples in every state can now receive the rights and protections of marriage," Quinn said in a statement. “As I said when I signed the Illinois marriage equality law on Nov. 20, 2013, ‘Love is patient, love is kind… love never fails.’”

Other reactions from around the state:

"There's a big old happy dance going on in heaven right now." — Patricia Ewert of Chicago, referring to her late wife, Vernita Gray, who died of cancer several months after the couple became the first to marry under Illinois' gay marriage law.

"For the more than 10,000 same-sex couples married in Illinois, our marriages must now be recognized by every jurisdiction in the U.S. and accorded the same legal rights and protections." — Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

"This misfortune now attempts on a national basis what the state of Illinois sought to do in 2013 in attempting to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. It was an 'attempt' because the state has no moral authority to change what God has created." — Springfield Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki.

"As Americans, we believe in human rights, civil rights and dignity. Today's ruling recognizes that our gay friends, family members, and neighbors are deserving of the same right to commit to the one they love." — U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.

"Finally the laws have caught up with the vast majority of individuals that believe that same-sex couples can and do lead committed and loving lives together, and thus deserve the same legal protections and responsibilities as any other married couples." — Anthony Martinez, executive director of the Illinois LGBT civil rights advocacy organization The Civil Rights Agenda.

"All my brothers and sisters can go ahead and marry and choose the people they love. It truly is the land of the free." Celebrity chef Art Smith, owner of Chicago restaurant Table 52.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Madigan Schedules House Hearing on "Rauner Shutdown"]]> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 10:49:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Madigan+Pension+Reform+Talks.jpg

House Speaker Michael Madigan scheduled a meeting with the full House of Representatives to discuss the "Rauner shutdown" on June 30, proving he is ready to fight the governor on a budget plan till the end. 

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday to coincide with the deadline for the new budget plan. If the lawmakers fail to come to an agreement, Illinois could experience its first state government shutdown in history. 

Madigan called on "advocates of the elderly in need of medical care, the developmentally disabled, and others who will be negatively affected" by a shutdown to speak at the hearing. 

"The House acted in May to avoid any disruption of a wide range of core programs and services important to middle-class and struggling families," Madigan said in a statement. "Those are the people who will be harmed by a shutdown." 

Madigan and Rauner have been battling from day one to draft a budget that satisfies the governor's pro-business agenda and the House speaker's pro-union leanings. Their heated quarrels went public when Gov. Rauner last week began airing advertisements attacking Madigan and urging public support for the governor's budget plan. 

Their arguments even extended into Chicago Public Schools territory this week. On Tuesday, the House failed to pass a bill that would extend the deadline for the district to pay $634 million to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, which is currently set for June 30. The bill, which was backed by Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was expected to pass easily, but when it was rejected, Rauner pointed the finger at Madigan

"The only reason the Speaker's Chicago caucus would vote against the Mayor's bill is because Madigan wanted to kill it," Lance Trover, a spokesperson for the governor, said in a statement following the decision. 

Madigan, meanwhile, has incessantly attacked Rauner on his proposed budget cuts, setting the stage perfectly for an attack on a potential shutdown. 

"Each day that passes without action by the governor creates unnecessary disruption and anxiety in every region of the state," Madigan said in a statement.

In addition to hearing from advocates for the elderly and disabled, state agency directors will also be invited to speak at the meeting Tuesday to discuss how their agencies plan to deal with a shutdown if a budget agreement is not reached by July 1. 

<![CDATA[School Board OKs $1.135 Billion in New Borrowing]]> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:57:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/76754258.jpg

The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday voted in favor of plans to borrow more than $1 billion to help the cash-strapped school district immediately and in the coming budget year.

The borrowing approved Wednesday is on top of an existing line of credit of up to $500 million. Of the new loan, $200 million would be short-term, to help cover immediate bills, while the remaining $935 million would help the district in the coming year.

The unanimous vote came a day after the Illinois House rejected a measure to delay an over $600 million pension payment until Aug. 10 when more funds become available. Gov. Bruce Rauner blamed House Speaker Michael Madigan for the bill's failure.

Lawmakers are likely to take another vote next week.

Chicago Public Schools is scheduled to make a payment of $634 million to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund on June 30, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it clear earlier this week that the district did not have enough money to make the payment. 

Board president David Vitale said before the meeting that the consequences of not getting an extension on the June 30 deadline could be drastic, including layoffs.

Vitale said he expects state lawmakers to act and he hopes the district can then come up with a longer term solution.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Creatas RF]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Signs Bill to Keep Schools Open, Funded]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 14:59:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner-budget-comp-1.jpg

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill Wednesday allowing funds to flow to the state's schools, ensuring they remain open and teachers are paid this fall. 

"Education is the most important thing we do as a community," Rauner said in a statement. "I would have done more for our schoolchildren, but I am taking action today to ensure our teachers are paid and our schools are open and funded." 

The measure increases K-12 education spending by $244 million and early child education funding by $25 million. While significant, this spending isn't as high as Rauner initially proposed in his budget, which would increase K-12 spending by $312 million and early childhood education spending by $32 million. 

The governor also took a stab at House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is entangled in a budget battle with the governor that includes a fight over whether — and how — to help Chicago Public Schools make a $634 million payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund on June 30. 

"I refuse to allow Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls to hold our schools hostage as part of their plan to protect the political class and force a tax hike on the middle class without real reform," Rauner added in his statement. 

The bill was signed by the governor Wednesday and goes into effect July 1, meaning the state's annual state aid to public schools will be given out on Aug. 10, as scheduled. 

The rest of the budget plan remains undecided as the first day of the new budget year draws closer. 

Photo Credit: Twitter / Bruce Rauner]]>
<![CDATA[Emanuel Faults State Government for CPS Pension Problem]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:38:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mayor+rahm+emanuel.jpg

In his second appearance on "Chicago Tonight" since he was re-elected in April, Mayor Rahm Emanuel carefully placed a good chunk of blame for Chicago Public Schools' financial crisis on the state of Illinois and past mistakes made in Chicago. 

“The reason we’re here is between 1995 and 2004, not a single payment was made (to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund) either by the Chicago Public Schools or the state into the pension fund, and half the problem we have today is because of those pension holidays,” Emanuel said right off the bat in his interview with Paris Schutz Tuesday night. 

While Emanuel never mentioned anyone by name — not even Gov. Bruce Rauner, former Gov. Pat Quinn or former Mayor Richard Daley — he hinted that the school district's current lack of funds, to put it lightly, is not his fault. 

The timing of the interview could not have been better, as the Illinois House had just rejected a bill earlier that day that would have delayed the district's deadline to pay $634 million to the pension fund by six weeks. The bill was supported by both Emanuel and Rauner and was expected to pass easily. According to Rauner, Madigan is to blame for its rejection, but it remains unclear exactly why the bill did not pass. 

"Welcome to the mystery of the legislative process," Emanuel said on "Chicago Tonight."

The mayor did not offer any clear-cut solutions to fix CPS' crisis, but he did accuse the state government of "structural inequality" that prevented them from providing the necessary funds to the Chicago Public Schools district. 

Emanuel cited data that showed that students in other districts — naming Kenilworth and Kankakee as two examples — receive an average of $2,000 worth of state investment, whereas Chicago students receive an average of only $157. 

“Every school system if they received the same support that Chicago does, they would be at the breaking point,” Emanuel said. 

The mayor said legislators chose Aug. 10 for the extended deadline introduced in the bill for a very specific reason — it's the same day the state hands out aid to all the other school districts. It seems Emanuel is hoping Illinois will bail out Chicago — or at least its schools — despite Rauner's speech to City Hall in May when he said Springfield did not have the money for such a move. 

Lawmakers will vote on the bill again on June 30, the day the pension payment is due, in the hopes of helping CPS avoid a potentially disastrous outcome that could include a lawsuit or even bankruptcy. 

As to what Emanuel and the rest of them plan to do with the extra six weeks if the bill passes the second time, the mayor did not offer a clear answer on that front either, saying only that they will "discuss a more permanent solution."

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<![CDATA[Donald Trump to Speak at City Club of Chicago]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 05:52:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/las-frases-celebres-de-donald-trump-7.jpg

Following his recent announcement of a presidential bid, celebrity businessman Donald Trump will speak at the City Club of Chicago Monday. 

The event, scheduled for June 29 at Maggiano's Banquets, has already sold out. 

Described by the City Club as "the very definition of the American success story," Trump will likely discuss both his business ventures and his candidacy on the GOP ticket. 

According to Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times, Trump will be joined at the City Club event by his daughter Ivanka and son Donald Trump, Jr. 

Trump's campaign is based on job creation and finances, declaring that he would be "the greatest jobs president God ever created" during his presidential announcement on June 16. He made his candidacy official on June 22. 

While it is debatable how well Trump will fare in the election, there's a good chance he will play a big role in the upcoming nationally televised Republican debate in August. Those who rank in the top 10 in national polls, which includes Trump, are eligible to take the stage during the debate. 

Trump faces several candidates vying for the GOP nomination, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Marco Rubio. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Blames Madigan for Defeat of CPS Pension Bill]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 10:49:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bruce+rauner+getty+2.jpg

The battle continues in Springfield between Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan as a last-ditch measure to help Chicago Public Schools make a full payment to the teachers' pension fund failed in the Illinois House Tuesday. 

After the House rejected the plea supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Rauner, the governor pointed his finger at House Speaker Michael Madigan as the culprit for the bill's failure. 

"Governor Rauner and Republican leaders supported this legislation, but the Speaker had Chicago Democrats vote against it," Lance Trover, a spokesperson for the governor, said in a statement. "The only reason the Speaker's Chicago caucus would vote against the Mayor's bill is because Madigan wanted to kill it."

CPS is scheduled to make a payment of $634 million to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund on June 30, but Emanuel made it clear earlier this week that the district did not have enough money to make the payment. 

The measure to extend the deadline to Aug. 10 failed 53-46 in the House, but it is not clear why it didn't pass. 

"Welcome to the mystery of the legislative process," Emanuel said in an interview on "Chicago Tonight" on Tuesday in response to the vote. 

Legislators will vote once more on the bill on June 30 when the pension payment is due, and despite its failure to pass the measure this week, Madigan appears confident the bill will pass the second time around. 

"I'm sure it can be done," Madigan told the Chicago Sun-Times

A report from the firm Ernst & Young this week showed that CPS could run out of money as early as this summer. The district's dire financial situation could mean teacher layoffs, shorter school years and bigger class sizes. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Tele-Schooling" Bill Could Mean End of Snow Days]]> Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:21:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/school+bus+snow.jpg

Snow days as we know them may soon be over, kids.

As lawmakers in Springfield fight to create a new budget and decide what to do — if anything — about Chicago Public Schools' financial crisis, another bill sits on Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk that could drastically impact the state's students.

House Bill 2781, which passed both the Illinois House and Senate in May, seeks to start a pilot program in the state in which students would take classes electronically from home on days that would typically be designated "snow days."

"Tele-schooling" days would take the place of snow days, meaning no extra school days would be added to the end of the school year. Summers would not be shortened, and schools would not have to remain open and eat up costs for those few extra days.

When the pilot program ends, legislators could introduce a measure to make "tele-schooling" an official statewide program. The bill does not address the issue of students who do not have regular Internet access at home, however.

The bill on Rauner's desk would authorize any school board other than the Chicago Board of Education to take part in the pilot program.

Schools enrolled in the program would have to prove their students completed at least five hours worth of virtual work, and only five "tele-schooling" days are allowed per year.

A similar program has already been adopted in Ohio school districts, which allow up to three "tele-schooling" days per year and offer alternatives for students without Internet access.

Illinois schools that wish to take part in the pilot program must submit proposals for an e-learning program to the State Board of Education for approval. The program could run for up to three years, or through the 2017-18 school year.

While the bill will not likely be approved — or rejected — by Rauner any time soon due to the more pressing need of approving a budget, Illinois' students may be in for a wake-up call in the near future when a snowstorm hits.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Adds Another Week to TV Ad Spot]]> Tue, 23 Jun 2015 11:55:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner+tv+ad+attack+madigan.jpg

As the budget stalemate in Springfield continues, Gov. Bruce Rauner extended his TV advertisement run by another week in an attempt to sway public opinion, the Chicago Tribune reports.  

The advertisement, which was unveiled last week across the state, targets House Speaker Michael Madigan and the "politicians he controls." Titled "Crossroads," the governor pushes his pro-business agenda in place of proposed tax increases. 

"Illinois is at a crossroads," the advertisement begins. "Mike Madigan and the politicians he controls refuse to change. They're saying 'no' to spending discipline, 'no' to job-creating economic reforms, 'no' to term limits. All they want is higher taxes. Again."




The first wave of advertising cost an estimated $450,000. Another expensive week of advertising is proof that the governor and his opponents in Springfield are still at loggerheads about the state's budget. If a deal is not made by July 1, it's possible the state government could see its first shutdown in history. 

In line with his "shake up Springfield" message from his campaign days, Rauner seems determined to hold tight to his pro-business agenda, no matter how hard Madigan and Cullerton fight it.

"Change in Springfield isn't easy, but you didn't send me here to do what's easy," Rauner says in the ad. "With your help, I'm going to keep fighting to grow our economy and fix our broken state government." 

The advertisement was paid for by Turnaround Illinois, Inc., the independent expenditure committee formed in April to "support state legislative candidates who support Gov. Rauner's bold and needed reforms and to oppose those who stand in the way."

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