Mayor Rahm Emanuel compared Gov. Bruce Rauner to likely Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump Thursday after the governor embarked on an Illinois tour this week touting stopgap funding measures for K-12 education and other essential services like state colleges and social services.
"Yesterday people across the state were looking for solutions,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Instead of uniting the governor was dividing. Instead of leading he was playing politics, pitting parents and students in one part of the state against parents and students in another.”
“Right now schools across Illinois need a leader, and instead Bruce Rauner is following the Donald Trump playbook of demonizing one group of people for his political advantage,” he added.
Rauner introduced the stopgap measures Tuesday evening, hours before the end of the spring legislative session. During a Wednesday speech in Vienna, the governor said he created the stopgap measures because school funding was integrated into House Speaker Mike Madigan’s budget proposal, which he says is $7 billion out of balance. He also said that Democratic lawmakers were relying on Illinois taxpayers to bail out Chicago Public Schools and that their funding plan would require tax hikes.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Rauner rebuffed Emanuel's claims Thursday during a stop in Itasca, comparing the mayor to sharp-tongued Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.
"I don't know where all these goofy personal attacks come from," Rauner said. "That's not helpful. I'm starting to think Rahm is taking his speaking lessons from Karen [Lewis] or something. This is not helpful. We've got to focus on the facts and what's constructive."
Officials from CPS fear the lack of K-12 funding could mean that schools won’t open in the fall.
"Like most school districts in the state, Chicago Public Schools would not be able to open their doors this fall without a state education budget – which is why we remain optimistic that our leaders in Springfield will build on the progress they’ve already made this session toward equity in education funding for students all over Illinois,” CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in a statement. “Now we need the Governor to end his strategy of pitting one region against another and fix the funding for all the districts suffering under Illinois’ worst-in-the nation approach."
Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis wrote a letter to CPS CEO Forrest Claypool Thursday urging him to support Rauner's education funding bill. According to Purvis, no school would lose money under the governor's plan and total funding would be increased by $240 million.
In her letter, Purvis asked Claypool if he would support a bill that would keep the city's block grant and after-school programming in place and fund CPS at the same level as fiscal year 2016.
"If your answer is yes, then you support the plan introduced by Governor Bruce Rauner and the Republican leaders this week- and I would ask you to advocate for its immediate passage so that all schools in Illinois can open in the fall," Purvis wrote. "If your answer is no, then you need to be honest and tell the people of Illinois that you are holding up school funding for the entire state so that Chicago will receive hundreds of millions more than it did last year- despite declining enrollment in Chicago Public Schools and a state in deep fiscal crisis."