Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper used a Friday sit-down with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to press for immediate funding for cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools, but said he left “flustered” over “vague answers.”
The unusual one-on-one meeting comes amid a two-year budget fight between the Republican first-term governor and the Democrat-controlled Legislature, who are deadlocked on a state spending plan. Earlier this week a possible “grand bargain” solution stalled at the Capitol.
The conversation was scheduled after the rapper, whose name is Chancelor Bennett, won three Grammys last month, including best new artist. Rauner tweeted congratulations and Chance, a Chicago native who attended city schools, asked for the meeting.
But the artist emerged visibly agitated after nearly 40 minutes.
“That went a little different than it should have,” he told reporters. “I’m here because I just want people to do their jobs.”
Rauner had a different take, calling it a “good exchange of views.”
“Having a dialogue with someone who’s passionate about a better future for the young people in Chicago and Illinois, I’m with him 100 percent,” Rauner said. “We may not agree on everything, that’s OK.”
Chance said they talked about $215 million in school pension help that Rauner vetoed in December, saying “kids are on the table.” He said he gave Rauner his cellphone number and that he’d monitor developments as state lawmakers meet in Springfield.
He indicated later on Twitter that he’d have a plan: “The fight has just begun.”
The artist has been civically involved before, leading a rally to the polls ahead of the November election. His father, Ken Bennett, served as a deputy assistant to former President Barack Obama and has worked for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration. His mother, Lisa Bennett, previously worked for Illinois’ attorney general.
Rauner has said he wants longer-term and pro-business reforms in conjunction with a budget. He’s said the $215 million should’ve been tied to broader pension reforms.
The governor said he looked forward to future discussions with the rapper. When asked his favorite Chance song, Rauner didn’t name any, but said he’d listened to his music.
“It’s innovative and distinctive and creative,” he said.