As the state budget impasse nears its fifth month in Illinois, the city of Chicago plus its transit agency and school district are looking to Springfield for over $800 million in assistance for their budgets, according to an analysis by the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed budget, including a $588 million property tax hike for police and fire pensions and school construction, is slated to go up for a vote on Wednesday. The mayor's spending plan depends on the state for pension funding changes, which have cleared both legislative chambers but have not yet been sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Without the pension funding changes, the city of Chicago would have to make an additional $219 million pension payment next year.
At the Chicago Public Schools, the school district's 2016 budget counts on $480 million in pension savings from Springfield. School officials have warned of massive potential layoffs if CPS doesn't get the financial help it needs.
For its budget, the Chicago Transit Authority needs $300 million in state funding that it has yet to receive.
The city of Chicago and its sister agencies are looking to Springfield for help amid the ongoing state budget impasse. Illinois has been without a budget since July 1, the start of the 2016 fiscal year, as Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders remain at odds over a new spending plan.
Rauner is trying to win items on his "Turnaround Agenda" through the budgeting process. Some of those items include workers' compensation reforms, a property tax freeze and limits on collective bargaining. Democrats, who vehemently oppose Rauner's anti-union policy proposals in particular, argue that Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" items are non-budget issues.
Rauner has been pressing Emanuel to support his controversial anti-union measures, which the mayor opposes.
"What I have said to the mayor is, 'I will help you if you help us. If you help us restructure this state, I will help you. If you will not help us restructure the state ... I will not help you in the city of Chicago,'" the governor said, according to the newspaper. "That dynamic is going to be a big part of the impetus to get some compromise on both sides."
The mayor, however, believes concerns over the state's financial condition amid the impasse will push Springfield to reach a budget solution.
"I don't think I'm usually seen as an optimist or 'keep hope alive' as my operating theory," the mayor said. "I do believe Springfield will get their job done, and that's not just a belief. It actually will be forced on them, whether they want to or not, by all the economics and the financial markets."
Rauner has a different opinion on the matter.
"Credit rating is pretty irrelevant to me. I don't work for credit-rating agencies. I work for the people of Illinois," the governor said. "When we get a truly balanced budget, which we haven't had in years, and when we're growing our economy, we're going to have very high credit ratings. We do the right thing, credit ratings follow."
Meanwhile, in other city budget news, Emanuel reportedly made it known to aldermen last week that he is looking to raise campaign cash at a big fundraiser. News of Emanuel's plans to raise campaign funds surfaced a week before Wednesday's budget vote in the city council. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Emanuel has gained some additional votes for his budget proposal after news of the mayor's fundraising plans circulated in the council.
"He'd be foolish to say he's not running now. People tune you out," a source close to the mayor told the newspaper. "Raising the money gives him the option and freezes everybody. If you were advising someone, you'd say, 'If you plan to run or not, it's helpful to have resources to support the people you want to support.'"