Aug 2, 2022 - Politics

Fact-checking Darren Bailey's "city in decline"

Darren Bailey celebrates with supporters on primary election night. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey penned an op-ed in yesterday's Tribune saying, "Chicago is still a great city, but it is a city in decline."

Why it matters: As longtime Chicagoans, it rankles us to hear outsiders — especially downstate outsiders who sponsor resolutions to separate Chicago from the rest of Illinois — come in and criticize our city.

  • We engage in plenty of criticism ourselves, so we're less bothered by that than the inaccuracy of his statements.

Reality check: Bailey wrote that "defunding the police" has made it difficult for officers to do their jobs.

The other side: Bailey spokesperson Joe DeBose says Bailey supports the claim of defunding the police by using old budget data from 2020 to 2021 — when spending fell by $59 million — rather than the latest figures.

What's more: Bailey's assertion that CPS spent almost $23,000 per student in 2021 doesn't jibe with district calculations of $14,782 per student and is "not based on any facts provided by Chicago Public Schools," district officials tell Axios.

  • And while the latest Illinois Report Card shows that CPS' per-pupil instructional spending is slightly higher than average in the state, that's not unusual in a district with high costs of living and high-need students.
  • State officials say that CPS has only 67% of the funding it needs.

Yes, but: Bailey's camp says it arrived at its figure by dividing the number of students in the district by the total 2021 CPS budget, which includes legacy debt payments and capital funding — not just money that goes to schools.

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