- Associated Press - Thursday, August 6, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thursday that he’s willing to help blunt a financial crisis in Chicago Public Schools as long as communities throughout the state get more collective-bargaining power - and he’s asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel for help.

The Republican governor called on Emanuel, Senate President John Cullerton and other Democratic lawmakers to pressure House Speaker Michael Madigan to negotiate over the governor’s proposal to give local government power to limit unions’ collective bargaining.

He said that’s only fair, since Chicago officials have gotten collective bargaining changes in the past, including legislation allowing it to implement a longer school day, and now are asking for a law requiring CPS teachers to pay their own pension costs, rather than bargaining with the union over that issue.

Chicago has picked up most of the 9 percent contribution required of teachers.

Rauner held his second news conference in as many days to press his agenda, after the Illinois Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would freeze property taxes and pick up $200 million in CPS pension costs. Chicago officials and Madigan said that was fair because the state pays the employers’ share of contributions for districts outside of Chicago.

Rauner said he is willing to give Chicago officials everything they’ve asked for in exchange for support for his collective bargaining changes.

“We are eager to help Chicago Public Schools … we’re eager to help the city of Chicago,” but Emanuel has “been unwilling to help us in our reform agenda to help the state,” Rauner said.

An Emanuel spokeswoman deferred to Chicago schools CEO Forrest Claypool, who’s said labor issues should not be tied to school reform and property tax legislation. The district is facing a $1 billion shortfall largely because of skyrocketing pension obligations.

Madigan has said that Chicago is different partly because of the high percentage of children in poverty, and his spokesman, Steve Brown, said Thursday that the speaker won’t support Rauner’s proposed curbs on unions that “trash working-class, middle-class families.”

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