Chicago Teachers Union delegates are meeting Wednesday to consider over 100 contract demands president Stacy Davis Gates said will cost “$50 billion and three cents.”

“We are asking you to give us an opportunity to tell our story. It will cost $50 billion and three cent,” Gates told the City Club of Chicago on Tuesday. “And so what? That’s audacity.”

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A clip of Gates’ speech has gained traction on X, where some have noted the cost estimate is roughly the same as total base tax receipts for the entire state of Illinois last year. It’s four times the current budget for Chicago Public Schools. The district is facing a $391 million deficit next year, which balloons to $700 million the year after.

“Because you know what the headlines are going to say once, you know, people who have a scientific calculator get done with it. They’re going to say these are great proposals and can’t nobody pay for it, and CTU with all of this that and the other. And who’s going to pay for it, Stacy?” Gates said.

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“Stop asking that question,” she said. “Ask another question.”

While WBEZ reported Gates was joking about the $50 billion, Mark Glennon, founder of Wirepoints, inquired with a member of the CTU. The response he received: “Nope. She is insane.”

With the CTU’s current contract expiring in June, Gates has predicted “it’s gonna get a little hot in this city in the next few months” as negotiations heat up. The union’s “defiant” contract proposals include a librarian, band, choir, art and sports in every school, a restorative justice approach to discipline, in addition to pay increases, more teacher planning time, and financial assistance for teacher housing, among others.

“There’s financial assistance for city workers who fight fires and who are in public safety,” Gates said, according to WMAQ. “We want them to work and make money that puts them above the poverty line.”

Gates clarified the housing assistance would be directed toward new teachers.

“What type of incentives can we offer newly graduated young people to invest in Chicago,” she said. “This contract is about transformation, and it will cost money. The economic are something we’ll have to go back and forth about.”

Gates blamed the state for failing to “fully fund” education in the Windy City, and suggested the district may get extra money from shifting away from tax increment financing districts.

The CTU’s entire list of demands, which delegates are considering Wednesday, were leaked online by the Illinois Policy Institute. They include a total of eight economic proposals, and 123 bulleted “key proposals” under 22 different sections.

The key proposals include things like “gender affirming and inclusive healthcare coverage,” a “general neutral bathroom policy,” “more queer competent trained service providers,” a “lactation room,” and “abortion coverage, extended bereavement leave, and more protections around bullying and respectful working environment.”

Others involve efforts to “expand access to bariatric surgery, weight loss drugs, therapeutic supports, service animal coverage” and to “remove copays for all mental health services.” There’s also cost of living adjustments that meet or exceed inflation, prohibiting teacher layoffs based on performance, 12 weeks of paid leave, and lower enrollment caps at charter schools that compete with traditional public schools for students.

Former CPS CEO Paul Vallas told WMAQ the contract proposal isn’t focused on students.

“I’m not adverse to finding ways to incentivize teachers to come to Chicago, but when you’re basically the highest paid teachers among large urban districts in the country, I tend to think we need to focus our attention more on what we are going to do for the students,” he said.

Vallas also noted Gates has bemoaned public awareness of the leaked contract demands.

“What she’s saying is this stuff shouldn’t have gotten out. The essence of democracy is transparency,” Vallas said. “The flaws of democracy is the attitude that you should withhold from members and public of demands you’re making that are not in the best interest of children.”

A mere 14% of CPS students can perform math at grade level, while only 16% are proficient in reading, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The CTU will negotiate its list of demands with former CTU lobbyist Brandon Johnson, whom the union paid to elect. The CTU has also shelled out $200,000 to promote Johnson’s March 19 ballot initiative to increase the real estate transfer tax, part of the mayor’s “Bring Chicago Home” initiative to create housing for the homeless, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

The nonprofit think tank reports the CTU wants some of that revenue, as well.