Aldermen and “Free the Funds Coalition” Hold CPS Briefing

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Alderman across the city are pressing Mayor Emanuel for answers on how the city intends to close an estimated $600 million funding shortfall. In response to the Mayor’s repeated canceled aldermanic briefings on his bailout plan for the Chicago Public Schools, Aldermen and the ‘Free the Funds Coalition’ held their own briefings on their plan to produce the revenue needed to keep classes in session and address CPS’ ongoing budget crisis. “We cannot afford more cuts,” 31st Ward Alderman Milly Santiago said at the rally. “Now we have furlough days, we had heard about a shorter school year. What else are we going to need?”

The ‘Free the Funds Coalition’ is calling on the Mayor and City Council to pass the Garza-Cardenas TIF Surplus Ordinance (O2016-5666), and the Chicago Employers’ Expense Tax and Development Incentive (O2017-3377), known as the Corporate Head Tax. These two measures would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the Chicago Public Schools. Aldermen, teachers, parents and experts will brief Aldermen and community members on these two measures. One potential fix being proposed by groups is to reinstate the corporate head tax, which was phased out by Emanuel’s administration in 2012. The tax, which applied to companies with 50 or more employees, would reportedly raise $106 million, according to estimates.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

“It’s unfathomable that the Board of Ed. needs the city of Chicago as a partner, and yet it’s delaying telling the corporate authorities — the Chicago City Council — what the options are or what the status at least it,” Ald. Munoz said. “It’s just unfathomable and unacceptable. “I have no clue what’s going on,” Munoz said. “But all I can surmise is that they really don’t know what they’re doing over there… It is scary. It’s very scary.” CPS officials have said they have a $129 million budget hole they need to fill to get through the end of the school year. But delays in some payments from the state have also affected the district’s cash flow, which has made it difficult to determine how much more money needs to be found, according to sources close to the ongoing discussions at City Hall.

“Everyone has known for months that we were staring down an emergency here, and parents and students are left wondering about the fate of their schools at the eleventh hour,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5). “In the aftermath of CPS’ failed lawsuit attempt, aldermen need to know what options are on–and off–the table for keeping the lights on.”

They haven’t gotten anything done in years,” 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said. “What makes us think that now, a month before schools may have to close early, that now they’ll find a solution?”

Comments are closed.