Illinois House Denies Pension Contribution Holiday for Chicago School System

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Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has for weeks been publicly questioning its financial ability to make its full pension payment ($634 million) by the June 30 deadline.

CPS, and Mayor Emanuel, have both stated that the payment couldn’t be made in full without big cuts in classrooms.

CPS recently turned to the state House for an extended deadline; however, House lawmakers this week were unable to agree on whether to let CPS make a late payment.

From CBS Chicago:

Illinois Democrats’ cross-party dispute in the state Capitol turned internal Tuesday when the majority party in the House failed to approve giving cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools a six-week reprieve on making a $634 million pension contribution.

Even with support from Republicans on a plan school officials said would avert classroom-spending cuts, the measure on delaying the pension payment failed 53-46, falling short of the 71 necessary.

[…]

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago argued that her measure simply bought more time, allowing the district to collect summertime tax and state-aid receipts while working on an interim or permanent fix.

“We need our leaders to come together so that we have enough time to reach a solution,” interim schools CEO Jesse Ruiz said.

Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs collected 16 GOP votes requested for the measure, saying his party was ready to step up. Not everyone on his side was convinced.

“I don’t know what 40 days gets you,” said Rep. Dwight Kay, a Glen Carbon Republican, “and what I hoped I would have heard today is a strategic plan.”

Some Chicago Democrats did give the thumbs-down. Rep. Frances Ann Hurley said she opposed any “pension holiday” that puts off a payment, even for six weeks.

Democrats are pushing for another vote, but that can’t happen until early next week – June 30, the same day the pension payment is due.

 

Photo by bitsorf via Flickr CC License

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