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Rahm And Rauner Go To Rome: Gov Hopes To Heal Divisions Along The Way

By Heather Cherone | November 17, 2016 3:57pm
 The elevation of Archbishop Blase Cupich is a cause for celebration in Illinois, Rauner said.
The elevation of Archbishop Blase Cupich is a cause for celebration in Illinois, Rauner said.
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DNAinfo/Mauricio Pena

O'HARE — Before heading to Rome to witness the elevation of Archbishop Blase Cupich to cardinal, Gov. Bruce Rauner said the celebration should be a time for healing between Democrats and Republicans.

Appearing with Mayor Rahm Emanuel at O'Hare Airport, Rauner praised Cupich as an "extraordinary leader" and wished his grandfather — a Catholic who attended Mass most days — would have been able to travel with him to the Vatican.

"This is a special time," said Rauner, appearing with Emanuel for the first time in many months.

"This time reminds us that the good lord did not make us Republicans or Democrats," Rauner said.

Instead, "we were put on Earth to do the good lord's work" and "make the world a better place."

Rauner's celebration of "acceptance and tolerance" came a little more than a week after Emanuel said Chicago woke up "despondent" after the election of Republican Donald Trump as president.

Emanuel Wednesday introduced a measure to the City Council that affirmed Chicago's status as a welcoming city for all immigrants, regardless of their legal status. The measure also calls on Rauner to to join Chicago officials' pledge to resist Trump's promise to withhold federal funds from municipalities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Rauner has declined to address the president-elect's policy promises, but told business owners in Springfield Wednesday that he spoke with Trump and expected to have a "good relationship" with the new administration.

Rauner and Emanuel left Thursday afternoon with an 80-member delegation to Rome that includes civic, faith, elected and business leaders, as well as students from two Catholic high schools.

The inclusion of Cupich among the most senior members of the Roman Catholic church is a "special moment" for all of Chicago, Emanuel said.

Cupich will become a cardinal Saturday and a celebratory Mass will take place Sunday.

When Rauner returns to Springfield, he will have to decide whether to sign a bill that would fill a massive hole in the Chicago Public Schools budget.

Last year, the General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner promised to give CPS $215 million in return for "pension reform."

District officials will no longer pay 7 percent toward the pensions of teachers hired after Jan. 1, under the terms of an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union.

However, CPS will to continue paying the bulk of pension contributions for current teachers, who put 2 percent of their salaries into their own pensions, while CPS pays 7.4 percent.

CPS agreed to pay part of teachers' pension contribution in 1987 in place of a pay raise as part of contract negotiations.

The Sun-Times reported that Rauner has until Jan. 4 to sign or veto the bill.

If he vetoes it, schools would likely see their budgets cut in the middle of the school year for the second year in a row.

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