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Chicago Makes Massive Teachers Pension Fund Payment

Mayor Rahm Emanuel directed Chicago Public Schools to meet Tuesday’s deadline for a $634 million contribution to Chicago’s teachers retirement fund but warned making the state-mandated payment would lead the cash-strapped district to make classroom cuts ahead of the new school year.

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s deadline, Emanuel had sought to delay the payment until August while calling for broader changes to how Chicago teacher pensions are funded. But with Springfield mired in a wide-ranging struggle between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and ruling Democratic lawmakers, there was little momentum to grant Chicago relief.

That left Emanuel with a choice: Skip the required pension payment and risk being sued by teachers and having the school district’s woeful credit rating sink further or make the payment and face a cash crunch that could lead to deep classroom cuts.

By late Tuesday, the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund announced Emanuel had decided to do the latter, confirming it received a $619 million payment that, combined with an earlier $15 million contribution, covered the full requirement.