WEST GARFIELD PARK — A day after taking harsh criticism from Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel lashed back Tuesday, charging Rauner is holding Chicago Public Schools students "hostage" and using them as "a pawn in a political game."
Appearing at a West Garfield Park news conference, Emanuel repeated charges that there is a "disparity" in state education funding, with Chicago having 20 percent of the state's students, but receiving only 15 percent of the state's education budget.
Yet he bristled most at suggestions the governor was withholding CPS funding in order to "pressure" him to help push the General Assembly to adopt what Rauner has called his "turnaround agenda," including limitations on unions.
"The children of the City of Chicago are not a pawn in a political game in Springfield to get an agenda done," Emanuel said, his voice rising. "They're not a pawn in a political game."
Emanuel accused the governor of open "cynicism," suggesting "he was going to hold the children of the City of Chicago hostage."
The Rauner administration responded in kind.
"As expected, the mayor is playing the tired political game of blaming others for his unwillingness to fix Chicago’s finances after more than four years in office because he has not taken on any major structural reforms," Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.
"While Gov. Rauner has increased state support for education to record amounts and has allowed Chicago Public Schools to keep its $600 million special deal, City Hall continues to borrow money for everyday expenses and passed a schools budget that is half a billion dollars short. Gov. Rauner has repeatedly tried to help the families of Chicago by offering the city massive assistance, but the mayor refuses to stand with the governor to help save Chicago."
On Monday, Rauner said he was "disappointed" in Emanuel and in Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and called on Emanuel to help end the state budget impasse, adding he would sign a bill into law allowing a recall of Chicago's mayor if it passes the General Assembly and reaches his desk.
"The governor's made comments like that in the past," Emanuel said.
He added that Rauner's focus instead "should be to pass a budget and get the job done," saying the governor was failing in his duty to create an atmosphere of trust where compromise was possible.
"After 11 months, it's clear that trust is in short supply in Springfield," Emanuel said.
He cited his five balanced budgets that the City Council has approved, adding that Rauner was now months late in passing his first state budget with no end to the impasse in sight.
"Pressure is one strategy," he said. "I usually believe in bridges of understanding."
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