Lawmakers reject plan to help Chicago Public Schools

Jun 4, 2013

Chicago Public Schools’ budget problems could go from bad to worse. That comes after Illinois lawmakers rejected a plan for the schools to delay pension payments. IPR’S Tony Arnold explains.

Three years ago, the Illinois state legislature gave Chicago Public Schools what critics would call a pension holiday where the district could stall on making payments to its retirement system. That’s set to expire at the end of this month meaning Chicago’s schools will have to make room for an extra 400 million dollars in its budget to pay for teachers’ pensions.

The way for the schools to avoid writing that check was to get Illinois lawmakers to give them some relief. Not money, but a longer timetable to gradually increase pension payments. On Friday, state representatives debated the plan, and it failed.

“This is by far the worst bill of this session.”

That’s State Representative David McSweeney. He said the state is in no position to allow another government agency to skip pension payments. 

A spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools wouldn’t say how it’d make up for that 400 million dollars if it would mean layoffs, cuts, or a tax increase.