Speaker Madigan Says CPS ‘Deserves Help' From the State

Madigan's speech fell on the same day that the Chicago Teachers Union began its three-day strike authorization vote

In a rare speech at the City Club Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Madigan expanded on his view on the Chicago Public School system, saying it should not be ignored by the state of Illinois.

"This is a system that needs help," Madigan said. "This is a system that deserves help because it's taken on the responsibility to educate children where 86 percent are poor, 85 percent are minority. ... Let's not take the view that we're going to walk away from a state responsibility to educate the poor, to educate the minorities in the state of Illinois." 

The speaker also called for an "in-depth review" of the state's process of distributing money to schools.

Madigan's speech fell on the same day that the Chicago Teachers Union began its three-day strike authorization vote. The vote was called in response to ongoing contract negotiations, but CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has said he believes they can avoid a strike if the district receives more financial support from Springfield. He added that the district could be forced to cut 5,000 jobs by February because of the state budget stalemate.

In November, Gov. Bruce Rauner said one of the reasons the state budget impasse has lasted so many months is because the city of Chicago is "out of money." He also made reference to CPS' pension crisis, saying it was years in the making, but the state did not play a role in it.

Madigan's speech was his first at the City Club in 15 years, according to Politico. The event, which sold out within five or 10 minutes, according to City Club officials, lasted only about 30 minutes, including the Q-and-A portion.

The House speaker began his speech with an explanation of his personal view on the budget impasse followed by an outline of the times he says he has tried to compromise with Rauner. Madigan attacked the governor for advocating for "non-budget issues," like workers compensation and collective bargaining, while the state has no budget.

On Tuesday, Rauner, Madigan and other top lawmakers met for the second in recent days, but it appears little progress was made on the budget. In his speech Wednesday, Madigan did not offer a timeline on the end of the budget impasse and when asked when the state will run out of money, he said he did not know.

When discussing the budget, Madigan never wavered from his specific talking points and views on Rauner, and he offered vague answers on other topics, including taxes.

One audience member asked Madigan how high he thinks taxes should go. Madigan answered, "Let me avoid creating a headline for tomorrow's newspaper and say that a good place to begin would be the level we were at before the income tax expired. Starting there you can go in whatever direction you want to go." This year, the tax rate for individuals dropped from 5 percent to 3.75 percent.

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