Bruce Rauner

Gov. Rauner Offers CPS $200 Million for Pension Parity as Part of Comprehensive Package

The bill offers a financial fix for Chicago Public Schools, but it comes with a cost

Gov. Bruce Rauner offered a compromise to Chicago Public Schools Monday when he proposed a two-year property tax freeze along with $200 million in pension and health care costs for the district.

Calling it the "Local Government Taxpayer Protection Act," Rauner the legislation is the "most important single piece of legislation we can pass this year."

The bill proposes a two-year property tax freeze as well as local control of collective bargaining in school districts and city and county governments. Rauner also said it includes increased state support for low-income school districts, including Chicago.

"We're willing to have the state start paying pension costs for Chicago teachers, just as the state does for other school districts," Rauner said.

The bill also means that lawmakers must agree to restrict workers' compensation and allow local governments to control collective bargaining, which leaves members of the Chicago Teachers Union skeptical.

"There's nothing new here," Jesse Sharkey, vice president of CTU, said. "This is Rauner's 'turnaround agenda.' Rauner has proven himself to be nothing if not tone deaf."

With Chicago schools facing a $1 billion budget hole and the city asking teachers to pay 7 percent more for their pensions, the financial outlook is uncertain.

Also uncertain is whether House Speaker Mike Madigan will agree to the Rauner plan.

"We're trying to get the speaker to move, and we're asking him, at least take up a real bill, a real reform bill, just one," Rauner said. 

The governor insists the bill gives CPS the ability to solve all its financial problems, but Sharkey says Rauner's plan hurts Chicago schools. 

"While Rauner sticks to his talking points and sticks to his ideological agenda, we're seeing real devastation on the grounds at public schools in Chicago.," Sharkey said.

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