State legislation that sought to give the Chicago Public Schools extra time to make its $634 million payment to its teachers' pension fund failed to advance out of the Illinois House Tuesday.
The bill needed a three-fifths majority vote in the House to pass. It didn't meet that threshold, garnering 53 'yes' votes and 46 'no' votes.
CPS is legally required to make a $634 million pension payment to the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund by the end of the month.
The legislation that failed in the House would have given the school district until August 10 to make that payment.
A recent CPS financial consultant report from Ernst & Young showed that the schools district is facing a $1 billion cash shortfall in the coming fiscal year. Given CPS' current cash-on-hand situation, Ernst & Young said the school district will be unable to make both payroll and the $634 million pension payment due June 30.
Before today's full House vote, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had this to say about delaying CPS' pension payment: "This six-week reprieve, which will receive bi-partisan support, is an opportunity to work through the issues for long-term financing....It's a six-week reprieve that ties...teacher pensions [payment] to when all the state aid will be done."
"It gives us the time to work through the issues of, what I view as the structural inequity that exists," the mayor added. "As I said to the governor and state leaders, `We're now at...a breaking point. You have to work with us to find a way to meet the obligations to our teachers in the same way you meet the obligations to the teachers around the state.'"
Meanwhile, Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin issued this statement against the pension holiday legislation Tuesday afternoon:
Our labor agreement with the Board expires next Tuesday. Chicago's public school educators are united in their belief that the $634 million payment must be made as required by law; that we receive a fair contract that will improve both learning and working conditions in our buildings; and, that our schools must open in the fall. Understanding that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is broke on purpose, the CTU continues to offer its expertise in working with CPS and the mayor toward finding a long-term solution for operating the school district and meeting the district's pension obligations without massive layoffs and more closed schools. We continue to be dismayed at the Board's refusal to even look at the multitude of progressive revenue options available. A mini pension holiday is like putting a tiny piece of gauze on a hemorrhaging wound. If there is any light at the end of this tunnel, we want to make sure it's not an oncoming train.
After bill failed to get through the House, Gov. Bruce Rauner's office blamed the outcome on Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan, saying in a statement: "Governor Rauner and Republican leaders supported this legislation, but the Speaker had Chicago Democrats vote against it. The only reason the Speaker's Chicago caucus would vote against the Mayor's bill is because Madigan wanted to kill it."
Madigan reportedly intends to bring the legislation up for another vote on June 30.