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Unions block attacks on pensions... CPS to claim budget 'crisis' while ignoring TIF and other revenue sources

The Illinois General Assembly ended its session on May 31, 2013 without passing what the corporate media have been calling "pension reform." Nor did the legislators approve the attempts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others to take away the democratic control of the pension trustees. Union officials warn that CPS will now claim it's facing a crisis and try to utilize its financial manipulations to continue the attack on the pensions and the city's real public schools.

On May 31, 2013, CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey sent out the following email:

Legislative session ends. Senate Bill 1920 House Amendment 2 failed. CPS “budget crisis” looming.

For now, no cuts to pension benefits have passed the legislature. We may see a special session this summer where they will try again.

CPS has a $600 million pension payment to make; but the legislature authorized no additional revenues to help CPS make this payment.

Undoubtedly, CPS will claim a serious budget crisis.

The mayor has demonstrated a lack of leadership and his appointed Board of Education has done a miserable job governing the district. They have closed 50 elementary schools without a plan and now they will have to deal with a looming budget issue. But rather than finding additional revenue, the mayor pushed through spending for the DePaul basketball arena, millions for Navy Pier development, and extended TIFs that were set to expire. Now more than ever we must demand an end to mayoral control and push for an elected representative school board.

What we NEED

CPS must provide additional revenue—either by re-directing TIF surpluses back to the schools, ending tax loopholes, or raising a new tax levy for pensions—that would stabilize the CPS budget and allow CPS to pay the full cost of the pension, an estimated $600 million. We are committed to ensuring that we safeguard retiree health care through the creation of a healthcare trust fund.

Rahm Emanuel and the CPS lobbyists, on the other hand, have been pushing deep benefit cuts as well as sharp increases in the retirement age.

A fair tax structure in Illinois that makes the wealthy pay their fair share and a financial transaction tax would provide billions of additional revenue for our schools. Unfortunately, the district has refused to consider any of these suggestions.

TAKE ACTION

Contact your state legislators and demand an elected representative school board.

Contact your state legislators and ensure that the constitutional right to our pensions is upheld.

Talk to your legislators, colleagues and parents in your school community about the possible budget issues caused by CPS. Let them know that programming and class size must remain at current levels.

Attend upcoming summer budget hearings, and invite parents and students from your school to also attend and voice their concerns.

In solidarity,

Jesse Sharkey

CTU Vice President



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