Chicago budgets are banking on hundreds of millions of dollars in funding or financial reliefs from measures which need state approval. State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have doubts whether the city will get what it seeks.
The reasons behind those doubts differ based on which party they represent. State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) says he’s willing to consider what the city wants—like $480 million in pension relief for Chicago Public Schools—but only if, as Gov. Bruce Rauner has demanded, Chicago politicians back Rauner’s legislative agenda, including collective bargaining limits.
“I’m hoping Chicago wants to join us on that different trajectory because we’re one state. Chicago is a huge part of our state. Its financial affairs and wherewithal matters,” Sandack said.
State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) doesn’t blame the city for asking for the state’s help, calling Chicago the “economic engine” for Illinois. But he believes the chances for passing Chicago-centric measures may be hurt by Rauner bashing Chicago during appearances outside the city.
“What he’s done is create a war of words and he’s added to the tension that we generally have in Springfield that we generally have between downstaters and Chicagoans,” Lang said.
Lang doesn’t feel regional differences have become any more pronounced in the legislature under Rauner, but only because almost all Republicans are, as Lang puts it, “just following the governor.”