Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner wants state lawmakers to approve a new two-year property tax freeze measure that includes several other items on his controversial "turnaround agenda" and would provide relief to the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district.
Specifically, the package would provide pension relief to CPS, begin an overhaul of the Illinois school funding formula, give local governments greater control over collective bargaining and make changes to the state's workers' compensation system.
CPS would immediately get a boost of over $400 million under the legislation, according to Rauner. The measure would also require Chicago teachers to cover the 7 percent that the school district now pick ups for their pensions.
"This will be a transformational change, improvement for the state of Illinois and allow us to move forward and complete the rest of the budgeting process," the governor said Monday.
Both the House and Senate have OK'ed property tax freeze measures, but Rauner's proposed collective bargaining changes were not included. Democrats take particular issue with Rauner's anti-union proposals.
John Patterson, a spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, described Rauner's newest proposal as "totally unacceptable."
"If Gov. Rauner is serious about helping Chicago schools and providing relief to taxpayers across our state, he should help push the Senate president's legislation across the finish line now," he said.
SEIU Healthcare Illinois* is also criticizing Rauner's latest plan. James Muhammad, the union's vice president, issued this statement:
Bruce Rauner has been given concession-after-concession and claims he's interested in passing a budget, but his demands that are harming tens of thousands of vulnerable citizens all boil down to one thing: His desire to limit the collective power of workers in Illinois and take away protections supported on a bipartisan basis. Even Gov. Jim Edgar told Rauner it's time to shelve these unreasonable demands and get a budget done.
By focusing on his political vendetta against organized labor, Rauner is reneging on a pledge to work with the General Assembly majority to get things done. This isn't reform--and it has nothing to do with balancing our budget. If Rauner wants to "reform" anything it should be the poison pill of union-busting that he continues to try and force down the General Assembly's throat.
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.