CN June 30 2016

They did it. The government of Illinois, in an almost unheard-of period of cooperation, agreed to a budget, of sorts, that will allow Illinois schools to open in September.

It’s only a six-month budget, designed, frankly, to get the elected officials just beyond the November election. At that point they’ll have a  clearer sense of the State’s political picture, and they may find it easier to work toward a more permanent solution.

The schools, though, got 12 months of funding, and CPS even got a little extra cash – and permission to raise Chicago’s taxes to pay for teacher pensions.

Just before the vote, we sat down with Politico writer Natasha Korecki. Her daily Illinois Playbook is an indispensable digest of local and state news, and she’s been following the Springfield saga closely.

“So there’s social service funding in there,” she begins. “There’s MAP grant funding which was huge for Madigan. That was one of the things he really wanted. Chicago State will get an infusion, so there’s some higher ed money in there. There is capital projects money, so they are talking about 30,000 workers who are unionized, they go back to work. If you’re a Democrat and Unions are your bread and butter how do you say no to that? So there was a little bit of something for everyone.”

Politics, of course, is in every nook and cranny of this agreement. Both sides had a vested interest in delaying really serious budget negotiations until after the November elections, because that’s when they’ll  know who’s on which team.

But the fact that the Governor agreed to let go of his “turnaround agenda” today might indicate that his political calculus is changing a little.

“How do you pick up seats when what you’re looking at is Trump on the top of the ticket in a very blue state in a presidential year, there’s higher democratic turnout…? Korecki asks.

And Hillary Clinton is popular in Illinois one presumes?

“Yes,” she says. “I mean she had a harder time in the primary than was expected, but yes. And you can argue that downstate is Trump territory and so forth, but other things, you’re looking at all these contested races. So the Governor is trying to not… He’s trying to win seats and now he’s looking at well, there’s money that’s not going to prisons in some of these districts that are contested. These Republicans are going to lose their seats. Schools might not open. Who is going to wear the jacket for that?”

One factor that might have helped CPS was the Emanuel/Claypool effort to recruit school superintendents from districts across the state, who stood with Chicago in arguing that their schools, too, have insufficient funding for low-income and special-needs students. “Their strategy then and even this week was – look at who else benefits,” Korecki explains. “It’s not just the City of Chicago. It’s Peoria and Waukegan and all over the State, and in this Senate Education Bill they did something similar where there was analysis looking at far south Illinois and those districts that are really hurting. They are going to get money. So you’re bringing more people in that way.”

We talk about George Lucas’ announcement that the Lucas Museum will not be built in Chicago. “A key point there, is that there was a constitutional problem with this and a federal judge cited against the City,” Korecki explains. “So whether it was the Friends of the Parks or someone else, I mean there is that component. The politics of this is fascinating, because here is a time when the very wealthy, the very connected, we said no to them. The City said, No, you can’t do this. You can’t do it here. Sorry.”

A few days ago, the police union’s Dean Angelo addressed the City club, and in a provocative speech, he said many police believe the City no longer has their backs.

“I talked to Dean Angelo a couple of weeks ago for a piece I did,” she tells us, “And he was talking about how,  some of his officers are just like, they see this big group on the corner, maybe they would have gone and like broken it up before something happens, but now they’re just kind of like yelling out the window, because they fear that just something is going to go wrong, something is going to be taken out of context and so forth. You know, of course then there’s the ACLU and there’s other forces saying, “Well, can’t you do your job without beating the snot out of someone illegally…” And there’s that disconnect, and I think there are a lot of very good police officers who maybe do just fear being wrongly accused of something.”

You can subscribe to Illinois Playbook HERE.

And you can read a full transcript of this program, in Word format, HERE: CN transcript June 30 2106


About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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