Speaker Mike Madigan spoke to a sold out City Club of Chicago on Wednesday, December 9; tickets for today’s event sold out in under five minutes. With each table costing $750, many of Chicago and Chicago-area successful businessmen and women filled the ninth floor ballroom. Speaker Madigan spoke on the Illinois budget impasses and the progress made between him and Governor Rauner. He renewed a pledge he has continuously stood by when questioned about their relationship: “I would work with him (Governor Rauner) professionally and cooperatively.”
These comments were tested for their validity when the public participation started and audience members hand wrote questions for the Speaker. Attendees wanted answers as to why they have not seen much progress and what things he has and will continue to fight for during negotiations.
Speaker Madigan reiterated how his stance has always been to help middle-class families and ensure a stable financial income. He compared himself to politicians who, he says, have changed their position since January. He also defended negotiations by characterizing them as halfway meeting points and a place where “they meet, talk, and exchange ideas.”
Madigan says that he and John Cullerton have met the Governor halfway on many issues. Laid out, Speaker Madigan gave an array of examples of compromises Democrats have made to please republican Governor Rauner. One such compromise was allowing Governor Rauner to privatize the Illinois Department of Commerce, however the Governor later refused Democrat’s efforts when they asked for oversight of the private company after 3 years to ensure they’re meeting goals.
Speaker Madigan later overlooked questions on how the state’s budget crisis is not because of two men’s egos. When asked about the dependency of CPS on state funding, Speaker Madigan said that this issue is “very controversial and very divisive.”
He furthered his support for public education funding by saying, “CPS is 86% poor children, 85% minority, 16% English learners” and that this is a “system that needs help, and deserves help.”
He restated that this stance is the same one he takes into negotiations with the Governor and “let’s not walk away from the state’s responsibility to fund education.”
Questions then arose about funding districts throughout the state and answered with how there must be an “in depth review of school distribution of money.” However, while this review process takes place CPS is still threatened with major layoffs in six weeks.
And the small movements he says happens in negotiations may be too small for Chicago teachers, parents, students, and communities.