- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Latest on school funding in Illinois and Chicago Public Schools’ contract negotiations (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

Educators from Illinois schools and universities are pushing for a graduated income tax to generate revenue for public education and human services.

More than 1,000 demonstrators representing various unions, including the Chicago’s Teacher’s Union, marched from the Capitol building to the executive mansion on Wednesday in support of a proposal that would replace the state’s flat income tax with a plan to make the wealthiest residents pay a higher rate.

They also highlighted the impact of the budget impasse on higher education and objected to a school funding plan offered by Gov. Bruce Rauner that disproportionately impacts poor districts.

Rally organizer Amisha Patel of the Chicago-based Grassroots Collaborative says revenue generated from a graduated income tax could support higher education and social services operating without state funds since July 1.

Teachers say fully funding schools, pensions and health care coverage can’t happen without more revenue.

A measure by Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie calls for a graduated income tax system that could generate $1.9 billion.


1:35 p.m.

The head of the Chicago Teachers Union has harsh words for Gov. Bruce Rauner and his leadership.

Union President Karen Lewis calls the first-term Republican a “new ISIS recruit” for “acts of terror” when it comes to dealing with poor and working people.

Lewis made the comments during a Wednesday speech to the City Club of Chicago. It comes during a 10-month state budget standoff between Rauner and legislative Democrats.

The union also is in contentious contract negotiations with the Chicago Public Schools, which opposes Rauner’s school funding plan and its reduced funding for the district.

Rauner’s office said Lewis’ choice of words have “no place in American discourse.” The governor has called for structural changes before a budget and a school funding plan that he says will benefit most Illinois districts.


11:20 a.m.

The head of Chicago Public Schools is asking the teachers union president to resolve contract disputes through arbitration to avoid a strike.

Schools CEO Forrest Claypool wrote a letter to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis on Wednesday seeking a response by April 27. The letter came the day Lewis was expected to address the City Club of Chicago and teacher rallies in Springfield.

In a statement, a CTU spokeswoman called the request a “publicity stunt.”

Over the weekend, the union rejected the recommendation of a neutral arbitrator that it accept a district contract offer. Lewis said that the “clock has started” on a potential strike which could begin as early as May.

CPS officials say the district is in dire financial shape. Claypool says that CTU should agree to final and binding arbitration in lieu of a strike as police and firefighters have done.


9 a.m.

Hundreds of demonstrators are expected to converge on Springfield to point out the damage the lack of an Illinois budget is having on education in the state.

Members of the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education will be at the state Capitol on Wednesday in an effort to pressure the Legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner to reach a funding solution for higher education. Meanwhile the Chicago Teachers Union are scheduled to lobby lawmakers and rally in the Illinois Capitol rotunda.

Several Illinois universities have announced layoffs as a result of the budget standoff in Springfield. Coalition spokesman Ryan Keith says the group organizing Wednesday’s demonstration is a collection of business, labor, and organizations representing public and private colleges and universities.

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