PI Original Adam Doster Wednesday May 5th, 2010, 1:02pm

Chicago Public School Students Send A Message (VIDEO)

As lawmakers piece together a stopgap budget in Springfield, high school students in Chicago marched through the streets demanding a fix for education funding cuts.

With the state budget crisis imperiling funding for public education, particularly at low-income schools, students are making sure lawmakers know just how angry they are.

Today, roughly 500 students from Whitney Young Magnet High School took to the streets, marching from their campus to the Chicago Public School offices downtown and then on to the Thompson Center. Their message -- punctuated by chants like "No to 37" (a reference to increased class sizes) and "Where's our bailout?" -- was clear: state lawmakers need to step up and provide adequate funding for public education. Some footage from the rally:

These types of student protests are becoming all too commonplace here in Illinois. In March, we watched as University of Illinois-Chicago students and faculty organized a mass furlough day to dramatize how cuts impacted the school's day-to-day operations and as Chicago Public School students questioned whether the Daley administration was doing enough to blunt the impact of the state cuts. A month later, 300 local high school students skipped class to protest cuts outside the CPS' headquarters. Teachers and students were also well-represented at the massive "Save Our State" rally in Springfield, in which 15,000 citizens voiced their support for fundamental tax reform.

In Springfield today, lawmakers are piecing together a stopgap budget that would at least close next year's $7 billion budget hole (while leaving unaddressed the $6 billion in late payments the state owes to service providers under this year's budget).

This morning, the House Executive Committee unanimously approved a tax amnesty plan (SB 377) that would provide a window for individuals and businesses with overdue taxes to pay the state what they owe -- while avoiding the normal penalties. The committee also passed a $4 billion pension bond bill (SB 49) that would allow the state to make its annual $3.7 billion pension payment, but only along party lines. That's problematic because pension obligation bond authorizations require a three-fifths majority, which the Democrats don't have in the House.  Meanwhile, lawmakers are still attempting to build support for a cigarette tax hike.

Stay tuned ...


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