WBEZ | budget http://www.wbez.org/tags/budget Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How organizations brace for Illinois budget cuts http://www.wbez.org/news/how-organizations-brace-illinois-budget-cuts-111793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunerpresser_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Bruce Rauner has said Illinois has a spending problem.</p><p>&ldquo;We have been living beyond our means, spending money that Illinois taxpayers could not afford,&rdquo; he said in his address to lawmakers introducing his proposed spending spending plan for next year.</p><p>Rauner&rsquo;s introduced the idea of big cuts almost across the board.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a very strong &ndash; and a very public &ndash; starting point in negotiations.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s created some panic.</p><p>If you stop and look around Chicago, you can see the influence of money from Springfield in almost every corner of the city.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him </em><a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-organizations-brace-illinois-budget-cuts-111793 Rauner signs into law compromise plan to fix budget hole http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-signs-law-compromise-plan-fix-budget-hole-111779 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunerpresser.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a compromise plan to plug a $1.6 billion hole in this year&#39;s budget and avert shutdowns of state programs and services.</p><p>Rauner signed the legislation Thursday evening, hours after the Democratic-led Senate approved it 32-26, with all 20 Republicans voting for it. Two days earlier, the House also approved the bills with full GOP support.</p><p>Following weeks of negotiation, Rauner reached the deal with Democratic legislative leaders, even though the majority of Democrats in both chambers voted against the compromise.</p><p>The plan authorizes him to transfer $1.3 billion from other purposes, including parks and conservation. The rest comes from a 2.25 percent across-the-board budget cut. It also gives Rauner authority over $97 million to distribute to needy schools.</p></p> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-signs-law-compromise-plan-fix-budget-hole-111779 Quinn predicts radical budget cuts without revenue http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-predicts-radical-budget-cuts-without-revenue-109918 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/quinn_budget.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn wants to make the state&#39;s temporary income tax increase permanent to prevent &quot;extreme and &quot;radical&quot; budget cuts.</p><p>The Chicago Democrat also said during his annual budget speech Wednesday he wants to give homeowners a $500 annual property tax refund.</p><p>The speech comes as the state faces dire financial problems and Quinn embarks on what&#39;s anticipated to be a difficult re-election bid against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.</p><p>Quinn proposed maintaining the state&#39;s income tax increase, saying that it&#39;ll be a &quot;real challenge.&quot; The increase rolls back next year, leaving a $1.6 billion revenue dip.</p><p>Quinn says extending the increase is a better long-term solution.</p><p>Illinois has billions in unpaid bills, a low credit rating and uncertainty with its pension debt.</p></p> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-predicts-radical-budget-cuts-without-revenue-109918 Cook County Commissioners unanimously approve 2014 budget http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-commissioners-unanimously-approve-2014-budget-109117 <p><p>As Republican Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri put it, the 2014 budget is one the board and county residents can be proud of.</p><p>&ldquo;No taxes, no fees, no layoffs, no problem,&rdquo; Silvestri said, during the final vote on the budget Friday.</p><p>All 17 Cook County commissioners voted to approve the $3.2 billion dollar spending plan for the next fiscal year. The budget came out balanced in the end, even though the county originally faced a $152 million dollar shortfall.</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said filling that hole is mostly thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The county is set to receive millions of dollars in federal reimbursements for expanding the county&rsquo;s Medicaid system, known as CountyCare. Dr. Ramanathan Raju, head of the Cook County Health and Hospitals system, said it has already surpassed their goal of 115,000 applications for the program. As of the budget vote, Raju said the county had initiated around 122,000 applications.</p><p>Democratic Commissioner Larry Suffredin said the assistance through the Affordable Care Act will help the county focus their attention elsewhere.</p><p>&ldquo;As we look at the sea change here from healthcare to public safety, we have a number of issues we need to work on,&rdquo; Suffredin said. &ldquo;We have, unfortunately, the largest single-site jail in the United States. We need to reduce the number of people who are in there.&rdquo;</p><p>Now that the 2014 budget is set, both Preckwinkle and Suffredin say the board&rsquo;s next task is to tackle the county&rsquo;s pension fund.</p><p>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</p></p> Sat, 09 Nov 2013 08:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-commissioners-unanimously-approve-2014-budget-109117 Chicago's school board deals with budget, accountability and charges that it violated the Open Meetings Act http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-school-board-deals-budget-accountability-and-charges-it-violated-open-meetings-act <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3523_board of ed-scr_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&#39;s Board of Education passed a $5.6 million budget Wednesday and also approved a new way to rate the district&#39;s schools. Outside, protesters called for board members&#39; ouster. WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton discusses those issues and charges that the district turned people away from the meeting in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.</p></p> Wed, 28 Aug 2013 18:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-school-board-deals-budget-accountability-and-charges-it-violated-open-meetings-act Parents blast schools budget http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-blast-schools-budget-108267 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMAG1712.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public School officials got an earful Thursday night at two simultaneous public hearings on this year&rsquo;s difficult schools budget.<br />&nbsp;<br />A top school official at the North Side hearing said at the start of the meeting he didn&rsquo;t just want to hear complaints about cuts. He wanted solutions for closing the district&rsquo;s $643 million gap between revenue and expenses.<br /><br />&ldquo;Tell us the things you think we&rsquo;re spending money on, that you think we ought to cut,&rdquo; said Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just say, &lsquo;Give us more.&rsquo;&nbsp; Tell us what you think we should cut.&rdquo;</p><p>Speakers were happy to comply.<br /><br />&ldquo;Ask the 20 charter schools that are opening after 50 public schools have closed&mdash;ask them to do more with less,&rdquo; said Dan Phelan, who worked as a teacher in the writing center at Schurz High School until he was laid off last month.</p><p>More than 3,100 school staff have been let go from the district this summer, due partially to school closings but mostly to budget cuts. The district slashed school budgets in its move to a new per-pupil budgeting system and in its struggle to pay a pension bill that triples this year, to $613 million.</p><p>The district has said cuts to schools are $68 million net, but the group Raise Your Hand suggests schools might have lost $162 million.&nbsp;</p><p>Many speakers, including state representative Greg Harris, called on the city to use surplus TIF funds for schools.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not the parents&rsquo; job and it&rsquo;s not the teachers&rsquo; job to find the revenue for these schools&hellip;.That&rsquo;s your job,&rdquo; CPS teacher and parent Carolyn Brown told Cawley.</p><p>Rod Estvan of Access Living spoke in favor of a property tax hike. &ldquo;The city&rsquo;s property tax rate is lower than any other town in Cook County,&rdquo; said Estvan. &ldquo;The [school] board needs to take some risks with the mayor and tell him the truth.&rdquo;</p><p>Cawley exchanged barbs with the crowd of about 100 all night.</p><p>Going over budget priorities, he mentioned the district&rsquo;s &ldquo;safe passage&rdquo; program, then told the crowd, &ldquo;You probably don&rsquo;t have to worry about safe passage up in these neighborhoods&mdash;you do on the South and West sides.&rdquo;</p><p>The incredulous audience responded with jeers. &ldquo;You are so out of touch!&rdquo; shouted James Morgan, a parent from Trumbull, one of the district&rsquo;s 50 closing schools.</p><p>&ldquo;The crime out here? You&rsquo;re full of it!&rdquo; said a mom who claimed her husband and son had been shot near the Uptown location of the hearing. &ldquo;How dare you? You don&rsquo;t know what&rsquo;s going on in these communities.&rdquo;</p><p>A number of subsequent speakers addressed Cawley&nbsp; as &ldquo;Mr. Winnetka&rdquo; because he has continued to live in the elite North Shore suburb thanks to a residency waiver the school board gave him two years ago.</p><p>The speakers demanded the district do more to press the mayor for additional revenue for schools. But Cawley, speaking directly to the state lawmaker in the audience during his presentation, emphasized what has become the district&#39;s key talking point--and what it sees as the most likely answer to budget woes--pension reform.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s our one big prayer for the future,&rdquo; Cawley said.<br /><br />The school board votes on the $5.58 billion budget on August 28. A final public hearing will be held tonight.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Aaron Atchison contributed reporting.</em></p></p> Fri, 02 Aug 2013 02:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-blast-schools-budget-108267 Could Chicago Public Schools’ troubled pensions become the model for the rest of the state? http://www.wbez.org/news/could-chicago-public-schools%E2%80%99-troubled-pensions-become-model-rest-state-108188 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/dave pruneau photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools continues to face severe budget problems. As a result, it&#39;s laying off staff and cutting programs. And part of the reason for those reductions has to do with the district&rsquo;s pension obligations.</p><p>It&rsquo;s raised the question: Why do some Illinois lawmakers look at Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; pension structure as the model for every other school in Illinois?</p><p>In this year alone, Chicago Public Schools says it&rsquo;s $1 billion in debt.</p><p>To give you an idea of what that means for schools, here&rsquo;s how Guadalupe Rivera at Morrill Elementary School on the southwest side of Chicago says her school could be affected.</p><ul><li>They used to have four teaching assistant positions and two special education teaching positions and those had to be cut.</li><li>Programs used to help students who were struggling. They would help differentiate instruction,&rdquo; Rivera said. &ldquo;They helped English language learners as well.&rdquo;</li><li>Students have to pay a $50 fee to join sports. And it&rsquo;s $50 each sport.</li></ul><p>And Rivera said the list goes on.</p><p>Cuts like these are being proposed at schools all around the city. The school system said these cuts are happening for a few reasons. Peter Rogers, the chief financial officer, said the main reason is because the district owes an added $400 million just for its retirement system this year.</p><p>&ldquo;The biggest factor in terms of increase year-over-year, is without a doubt, far and away, the pension fund required increase and it will continue to do so over the next several years,&rdquo; Rogers said earlier this week.</p><p>In May, the district tried to temporarily delay paying the whole $400 million in one budget cycle. But to do that, it needed the ok from Illinois lawmakers in Springfield.</p><p>And that didn&rsquo;t go so well.</p><p>At the time, State Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison), said he&rsquo;d seen the district ask for similar measures in the past.</p><p>&ldquo;You talk about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. This pension holiday will probably work better than all the previous pension holidays,&rdquo; he said sarcastically on the House floor.</p><p>The bill failed, meaning Chicago Public Schools has to pay that extra $400 million into its pensions.</p><p>Yet two of the most powerful lawmakers in Springfield continue to push to make Chicago&rsquo;s pension structure the model for every other school in the state. Chicago contributes to its own pensions. But the state pays for suburban and downstate schools.</p><p>And lawmakers like House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), say it&rsquo;s high time those schools pay for their own teachers&rsquo; pensions.</p><p>Madigan even has a phrase he likes to call it: the &ldquo;free lunch.&rdquo; Madigan has said it&rsquo;s bad management to have the state pay for teachers&rsquo; pensions when the school districts can set the retirement benefits. And Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) is on the same page.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to pay, because of some anomaly in the law, for all of the suburban and downstate teachers, all the university employees and all the community college employees,&rdquo; Cullerton recently said in an interview with WBEZ. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the state&rsquo;s obligation. No other state has that. And the reason why we fell behind in making these payments is because the bill is so high.&rdquo;</p><p>But while Cullerton is pitching that all school districts should pay for their pensions, he&rsquo;s also proposing that the state help Chicago&rsquo;s schools with its pension obligations, that extra $400 million that&rsquo;s being partly blamed for causing all the cuts.</p><p>&ldquo;All these cuts that you&rsquo;re hearing about in these schools, that&rsquo;s directly related to the Chicago teachers&rsquo; pension crisis and we really have to focus on that, even, arguably, even before we do the state pension funds,&rdquo; Cullerton said.</p><p>The situation makes the superintendent of west suburban Elmhurst District 205, Dave Pruneau, look at Chicago&rsquo;s pension difficulties as a cautionary tale for every other school in the state if pension costs eventually get shifted to the districts.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re going through a lot of - (it&rsquo;s) kind of a precursor of where we might be in a lot of districts in Illinois in the next few years,&rdquo; Pruneau said.</p><p>Pruneau said his school district has seen about $6 million in cuts in the past three years. Those reductions have mostly been administrative, but if the district has to gradually start finding money for its teachers pensions, those cuts could start moving into the classroom.</p><p>Pruneau pitched the idea of capping how much pension costs suburban and downstate schools should have to pick up.&nbsp; But regardless of what is eventually decided, whether Elmhurst starts paying for its teachers pensions or not, Pruneau said he&rsquo;s already seen a consequence of the ongoing debate.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very tough right now beyond a one or two-year window to plan long-term because you just don&rsquo;t know what&rsquo;s happening on the revenue side with the state,&rdquo; he said.<br />Pruneau said that means some capital projects on his wish list won&rsquo;t be going anywhere any time soon.<br />Something every other school in the state could be seeing.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 12:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/could-chicago-public-schools%E2%80%99-troubled-pensions-become-model-rest-state-108188 Morning Shift: Board of Ed gets a look at CPS budget http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-25/morning-shift-board-ed-gets-look-cps-budget-108179 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Desks 2-Flickr- Robert Couse-Baker.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The recent closure of 49 public elementary schools in Chicago has one local group alleging it&#39;s a human rights violation. We learn about the group&#39;s accusations, and talk to CPS&#39; CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett about the district&#39;s budget.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-30.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-30" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Board of Ed gets a look at CPS budget" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-25/morning-shift-board-ed-gets-look-cps-budget-108179 Budget squeeze in Chicago schools pushes some classes online http://www.wbez.org/news/budget-squeeze-chicago-schools-pushes-some-classes-online-108158 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dyett.jpg" title="Students denounce the shift to online classes at Dyett High School. Local School Council members say they were told their budget was not large enough to pay for teachers for courses in art, music, Spanish or physical education. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></div><p>Members of the Local School Council at Dyett High School say their principal has advised them he can&rsquo;t pay for enough teachers with the budget he was issued from Chicago Public Schools.<br /><br />That means many classes&mdash;including art, music, Spanish, social studies, and even gym&mdash; will be online.<br /><br />&ldquo;I signed up for a public school to be taught by a teacher, not by a computer,&rdquo; said senior Diamond McCullough, who joined others in denouncing the online offerings. &ldquo;For Spanish, I could barely get Spanish from a teacher right there. So it&rsquo;s gonna be harder trying to get Spanish from a computer,&rdquo; McCullough said.<br /><br />Local school council member Steven Guy says a new budgeting system the district is using might give principals more autonomy, but he said that matters little when the total bestowed on schools is inadequate.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like me, giving you a car with a quarter tank of gas, telling you it&rsquo;s your job to drive to St. Louis and back. And if you can&rsquo;t do it, then it&rsquo;s your fault,&rdquo; said Guy.<br /><br />CPS could not immediately confirm the changes at Dyett.<br /><br />Dyett&rsquo;s budget problems are compounded because the school is being phased out&mdash;essentially a long, slow school closing. This year, it will only have juniors and seniors. LSC members said they expected to lose four or five teachers due to the fact the school is shrinking. Instead, they are losing 13.<br /><br />Students, parents and community activists from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization made their statements outside nearby Overton Elementary School, one of 50 schools the Chicago Board of Education voted to shutter in a historic school closings vote in May.<br /><br />A number of Overton parents said they still had not given up on the idea that the school should remain open. In the most recent round of state standardized tests, Overton, which is now shuttered and half empty, outscored the receiving school students are being sent to, Mollison.<br /><br />In a written opinion last spring,&nbsp; the judge who heard testimony on Overton&rsquo;s closing called attention to the fact that Mollison did not seem to perform much better than Overton.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is tantamount, using a food metaphor, to the promise of an omelet with a crisp waffle,&rdquo; wrote Carl McCormick. &ldquo;Then what is delivered are broken eggs, whose contents are oozing out and a burnt pancake.&rdquo;<br /><br />A number of Overton parents said they still did not know where their children would attend school on August 26.<br /><br />Many of the students gathered for the press conference had seen both their grammar school and their high school shuttered for poor performance.</p></p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 17:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/budget-squeeze-chicago-schools-pushes-some-classes-online-108158 Deep cuts proposed to funding for Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/news/deep-cuts-proposed-funding-great-lakes-108157 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Great Lakes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A U.S. house subcommittee proposed a bill that would reduce the <a href="http://greatlakesrestoration.us/">Great Lakes Restoration Initiative</a> budget from $285 million dollars to just $60 million, a nearly 80% cut.</p><p>&ldquo;When we first saw these numbers I could surmise that somebody miscounted and thought there was just one Great Lake,&rdquo; said Todd Ambs, the campaign director for the <a href="http://healthylakes.org/about/">Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.</a></p><p>Since 2009, the initiative has tackled some of the Great Lakes&rsquo; biggest ecological problems, including <a href="http://greatlakesrestoration.us/projects/index.html">invasive species, runoff, and contamination.</a> Many proponents say the initiative will become even more important with climate change, which will have a drastic impact on the lakes.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got these toxic hot spots that need to be cleaned up. And if we don&rsquo;t do it now it&rsquo;s just going to cost more in the future&rdquo; said Ambs.</p><p>The Great Lakes funding was not alone in the potentially drastic <a href="http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-113hr-sc-ap-fy2014-interior-subcommitteedraft.pdf">cutbacks.</a> The bill proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency&#39;s budget by over 30% and the National Endowment for the Arts&rsquo; budget by nearly 50%.</p><p>Sub-committee representatives said the bill made the hard choice of cutting &ldquo;<a href="http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=343384">nice to have&rdquo; programs, in order to save &ldquo;need to have&rdquo; programs.</a> But Joel Brammeier, president of the <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a>, said that even in this tough budget year, programs like the Great Lakes Initiative are singled out for disproportionate cuts. &nbsp;&quot;Cuts of this magnitude would bring Great Lakes programs to a halt,&quot; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">The bill is unlikely to be discussed by the full house until this fall, at which point it could be drastically revised during continuous budget negotiations in both the House and Senate. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan reports for WBEZ. You can follow her<a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h"> @shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 16:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/deep-cuts-proposed-funding-great-lakes-108157