Tuesday, we were met with the unthinkable. News broke that one of our city's finest public servants, 18th District Police Commander Paul Bauer, had been fatally wounded.
The men and women of our city's police force work day and night to keep us safe. True to this spirit, Commander Bauer heroically pursued a suspect who was running from a tactile police unit.
We are heartbroken at his loss and send his family, especially his wife and young daughter, our deepest condolences. If you would like to go a step further, like Commander Bauer often did, please consider a donation to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
Governor's Budget Address
This week the Governor delivered his Budget Address to the General Assembly. Here are some of his proposals for this year's budget:
-Cutting $228M from Chicago Public Schools.
-Shifting $490M in state pension costs to local school districts statewide.
-Slashing health insurance benefits for middle class families.
It boggles the mind that when the state has finally begun to make significant progress on paying down the bill backlog, Rauner wants to reverse that momentum by proposing a budget that would once again grow the debt.
To meet legally mandated payments, there is $2.4B in spending on education, health care, bond interest payments and pensions that his budget ignores.
While I am willing to meet the Governor half way on many issues, this budget is not based in reality.
Last year, Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly worked together to pass a balanced budget without the Governor. Unless the Governor decides to finally accept the reality of mathematics, then another bipartisan budget absent the Governor may be what is needed.
Chicago Public Schools Update
There has been much to get excited about in CPS this year. A Stanford University study revealed that CPS students were found to have the highest rate of academic growth between 3rd and 8th grade among the largest 100 school districts in Chicago.
This did not happen by accident. Parents, teachers, and administrators across the city came together to commit fully to our children's education.
Not only are students achieving success, but thanks to legislation I supported earlier this year, CPS' finances are also on much sounder footing. Standard and Poor's assigned a "stable" outlook to CPS' finances while the Kroll Bond Rating Agency upgraded its outlook of CPS debt from "stable" to "positive." Fitch ratings also upgraded CPS' credit rating.
We will continue on this forward path in order to make a difference for the children and families in our community.
Looking Forward to 2018
While we made some progress in Illinois in 2017, there is much more work to be done. We still need to modernize our tax code and create a progressive income tax that fits the modern economy.
We also must legalize the recreational use of marijuana, both for generating tax revenue and economic activity, but also because prohibition is a failed policy that locks up non-violent offenders and disrupts communities.
I also look forward to new efforts to keep our streets safe, our neighborhoods thriving, and our schools reaching their full potential.