McConchie says Chicago Teachers Union's demands self-centered
While an 11th-hour deal kept the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) from walking off the job as it settled contract negotiations with the city Tuesday, state Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Lake Zurich) said he found the prospect of the threatened strike to be disheartening.
“I think it is very unfortunate that the teachers union is really putting wages ahead of both students and taxpayers,” McConchie told the Lake County Gazette during the days of uncertainty in contract negotiations. “A strike really doesn’t benefit anyone, least of all, the students. It’s one thing to say you’re going to go on strike during the summer, but it is something else during the middle of the school year, where kids are not going to get the instructions that they really need to get ahead.”
The CTU's demands for higher wages came as the state's budget picture remains unresolved, which McConchie said shows how self-serving the union is.
“This really seems to undermine the argument that they are interested in helping advance education when their primary interest seems to be in how much they can increase their salaries,” McConchie said. “Chicago has over 1,100 teachers or administrators who make six figures, (but) they dramatically under-resource in other areas," McConchie said. "The union just simply has too much power, and it is unfortunate that they are using the children as kind of fodder in their battle for more money.”
The city’s battle of finances reflects Illinois' broader fiscal problems. In the midst of a report stating that Illinois’ budget deficit may be more than double what was originally forecast due to a carry-forward deficit from the previous year, S&P Global Ratings recently dropped the state’s credit rating one notch, from BBB+ to BBB.
This is not good news for the state, McConchie said.
“It’s never good to have your credit rating reduced, and every time that it falls, we see the cost of borrowing go up,” McConchie said. “This just goes to show the lack of faith people on the outside – experts – have in our ability to keep our finances in order.”
S&P Global cited the state’s long history of spending without a budget, state leaders' inability to address the financial woes, its rising deficit, unfunded pension liability, and its high debt as main factors for the downgrade. The group warned that Illinois’ problems could get worse without significant reform.
McConchie said services such as S&P provide a somber look at the state’s situation.
“Credit agencies have no real skin in the game themselves,” McConchie said. “They are just looking at the situation and what the market is and are making the determination whether or not this is a good investment. Every time you have a credit downgrade, it undermines the faith that we are actually going to be able to get anything done.”
McConchie said the credit reduction likely will be costly to the state and taxpayers.
“It will very likely result in increased borrowing costs and more money that the taxpayers have to spend on interests,” McConchie said. “That money isn’t going to be able to be used on roads, human services or other things we should be prioritizing.”
McConchie said the money could be used for services such as education.