Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, March 17, 2017. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Governor Bruce Rauner will give Chicago Public Schools the $215 million it needs—but only if the Illinois General Assembly passes a pension reform bill. The bill, introduced by two Republican state senators, would allow state employees to opt for fewer benefits in exchange for postretirement raises and put their money in a 401(k)-inspired plan instead of a pension. Rauner characterized the $215 million needed to help CPS stay financially solvent as "a bailout" that would otherwise be "unfair to Illinois taxpayers." [DNAinfo Chicago]
Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson and several other police officials from around the country met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday in Washington, D.C. The group discussed how the U.S. Department of Justice and other parts of the federal government can help combat urban gun violence. CPD said that Johnson planned to ask Sessions for more federal government agents in Chicago, including more FBI agents and more federal prosecutors focusing on illegal gun cases. [NBC Chicago]
Illinois's smaller state universities, including Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and Chicago State University, are struggling to stay open without state funding. With a state budget impasse that started in July 2015, public colleges and universities haven't received any money from the state this year. As a result "hundreds of employees have been laid off, dozens of academic and athletic programs cut, weeks worth of pay erased through furloughs, maintenance projects halted, vendor payments delayed and reserves emptied," according to the Tribune. [Tribune]
The Illinois House of Representatives' School Curriculum & Policies Committee overwhelmingly passed a bill for an elected school board in Chicago by an 18-1 vote. Members of the Chicago Board of Education are currently appointed by the mayor; the proposal would let Chicago voters elect the board members instead. Chicago Public Schools is vehemently opposed to the bill. "An elected school board would have no more authority than our existing board to raise additional revenue for Chicago Public Schools—and revenue is at the root of our problem," CPS chief education officer Janice Jackson told the committee. Democratic state rep Rob Martwick argues that Chicago taxpayers pay for CPS but don't get a say in how the district spends their money. "The question is a fundamental question of democracy," he said. "Should there be taxation without representation?" [Sun-Times]
It's been five years since former governor Rod Blagojevich left Chicago to report for prison in Colorado on March 15, 2012. Blagojevich remains behind bars despite appeals and a resentencing hearing. Five counts of his conviction were thrown out by a judge, but his 14-year sentence wasn't changed. Now his appellate attorney, Leonard Goodman, is pursuing a second appeal on the remaining counts. "He really is focused on this new appeal, and he understands this is a great opportunity for him to have his case heard," Goodman told NBC Chicago. "And a lot of people don't get that chance to get a second bite of the apple." The case will be argued before the Seventh Circuit Court next month. [NBC Chicago]
Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade is out for the rest of the regular season with a dislocated right elbow and ligament damage. Without their star player, the pressure will be on Jimmy Butler to carry the team to the NBA playoffs. "A lot is going to go on Jimmy's shoulders, but a lot has been on his shoulders already, so he'll be fine," Wade said. [Sun-Times]