CPS Layoffs: Rahm Blames Pension Shortfalls for Teacher Cuts

By Sam Cholke on July 21, 2013 3:34pm 

 In his first press conference since lay off notices went out to more than 2,000 teachers and school support staff, Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed the city and state's pension problems for budget cuts to the schools.
In his first press conference since lay off notices went out to more than 2,000 teachers and school support staff, Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed the city and state's pension problems for budget cuts to the schools.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

SOUTH DEERING — Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed pension obligations Sunday in his first public comments since more than 2,000 teachers and support staff in the Chicago public schools got pink slips Friday.

“Everyone has always said if we don’t fix the pension situation, it’s going to come back at some expense,” Emanuel said.

On Friday, the Chicago Public Schools confirmed 1,036 teachers and 1,077 support staff would be let go. The Chicago Teachers Union estimated 3,500 educators have been removed from schools since May.

Emanuel said the Board of Education is in a difficult situation with the city and state less able to step in with funding. He pointed to the downgrade in the city’s credit rating Thursday by Moody’s Investor Services.

“If we think the pension is not a threat, Moody’s is a wake up call,” Emanuel said.

The state has a $100 billion pension shortfall and the city has a $19 billion unfunded pension liability, according to Moody’s.

Emanuel called on lawmakers in Springfield stop putting off dealing with pension shortfalls.

Emanuel made his comments while announcing the lease of the Illinois Port Authority District to the Broe Group, which he said would invest $500 million into port facilities.

The mayor also repeated his call for stricter punishment of gun crimes, after a spate of shootings in the city over the weekend.

“The weak link in our strategy is to set a three-year minimum sentence for gun crimes,” Emanuel said.

He called on communities plagued by gun violence to replace the code of silence with a moral code of cooperating with police.

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