Monday, July 18, 2005

Sen. Lauzen on TV tonight: Comptroller Hynes AWOL on the pension deals?

We discuss: you decide.
Jeff Berkowitz: He [Comptroller Dan Hynes] supported it, right? Did he say it was okay, or was he concerned?

State Senator Chris Lauzen [R-Aurora]: I don’t know what he said after the fact. I just know that there was no help or hurt during the battle and I just think that a [State] Chief Financial Officer ought to be involved in billion dollar decisions.
Tonight’s City of Chicago edition of “Public Affairs,” features State Sen. Chris Lauzen [R-Aurora], the Republican nominee in the 1998 election contest for State Comptroller. The show with State Senator Lauzen airs throughout the City of Chicago [in the regular “Public Affairs,” City of Chicago Monday night slot] tonight at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV]. See here for a link to the topics discussed on tonight’s show with Sen. Lauzen, as well as for a link to and another partial transcript of tonight’s show with Sen. Lauzen.
An additional partial transcript of tonight’s show with State Senator Chris Lauzen is included, below:
Jeff Berkowitz: And, and you ran for Comptroller, state Comptroller, in 1998--

State Senator Chris Lauzen: I was happy to win the primary, and then, I learned about the Chicago machine.

Berkowitz: They came after you big time. And you didn’t quite have as much money as they had?

Sen. Lauzen: Right.

Berkowitz: …And Dan Hynes won that race-

Sen. Lauzen: Yes.

Berkowitz: And he was re-elected [State Comptroller] in 2002 [over the Republican nominee, Tom Ramsdell, who had virtually no funding].

Sen. Lauzen: Yes.

Berkowitz: …A big issue is pensions. Let me ask you, you may not be completely objective on this, but-

Sen. Lauzen: [laughs]

Berkowitz: State Senator Chris Lauzen, what have you heard from Dan Hynes, the chief financial officer of the State of Illinois regarding the pension issue?

Sen. Lauzen: Well, it’s, it’s my personal feeling that when you have big financial issues, the person who’s the chief financial officer of the state ought to be involved in them-

Berkowitz: You think?

Sen. Lauzen: Whether it’s George Ryan- I do.

Berkowitz: You think? It’s not a quirky view?

Sen. Lauzen: Yeah, well, you would think so. I mean, the chief financial officer should be involved in George Ryan’s, ah, Illinois First, whether it’s a good or bad idea; [he] ought to be involved in a ten billion dollar plan to speculate in the stock and bond market-- you know that was two years ago, in the Blagojevich administration-

Berkowitz: You’re saying Comptroller Hynes didn’t give his views on that?

Sen. Lauzen: Not, not-- not before the issue. Now, maybe, some afterwards. But, I certainly-

Berkowitz: He [Comptroller Dan Hynes] supported it, right? Did he give his view after [the pension deal]? Did he say it was okay, or was he concerned?

Sen. Lauzen: I don’t know what he said after the fact. I just know that there was no help or hurt during the battle and I just think that a chief financial officer ought to be involved in billion dollar decisions. [Ed. Note: See here for a list of Hynes’ press releases-- from which Hynes’ position on “pension legislation,” seems to be conspicuously absent, although there is plenty of embryonic stem cell stuff]; See here for a recent Comptroller Cover Story, which is heavy on data, but “thin,” on a position on pension legislation taken by Comptroller Hynes].

Berkowitz: All right, let’s scroll forward…As the state legislature, and as you and your colleagues in the State Senate and your colleagues in the State House were coming near the expected end of the legislative year, the end of May, it’s a big day, because if they don’t do it by the end of May, passing the budget requires not a majority, but if they go to June 1 or later, it requires a three fifths vote, right?

Sen. Lauzen: Yes. Yes it does.

Berkowitz: Sixty percent, and, right now, the Democrats in the House and the Senate have a majority, but they don’t have sixty percent. So, they can pass that budget without any Republican support. [If the Legislature] go[es] to June 1, then they need some Republican support, right?

Sen. Lauzen: That’s exactly right.

Berkowitz: Okay. So people thought it wasn’t going to make it. There wouldn’t be any agreement, et cetera, the Democrats-

Sen. Lauzen: I did.

Berkowitz: You thought that it wouldn’t [get resolved by June 1]?

Sen. Lauzen: I thought that it was going to go into overtime.

Berkowitz: But, the Democrats-

Sen. Lauzen: Because, I thought no one, no one would be so reckless as to steal from the pension funds.

Berkowitz: Because they had about a billion dollar deficit. They didn’t know quite how they were going to handle it. Some said gaming, some said this, some said that, but the Democrats came up with what they viewed as a solution. Right?

Sen. Lauzen: Yes.

Berkowitz: What was that solution, State Senator Chris Lauzen?

Sen. Lauzen: Uh, they decided that they were going to raid 2.3 billion dollars, over two years, from the pension funds. I literally had the, uh-- John Filan, who’s the chief of the, the chief director of-

Berkowitz: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget [for the State of Illinois], or something like that.

Sen. Lauzen: Exactly. He was so, he was so angry at an editorial board meeting that he was literally spitting across the table-- he was so angry.

Berkowitz: Spitting?

Sen. Lauzen: Um, uh, basically a raised voice, um, in my- in one of my home towns, uh, talking about how previous administrations had stolen from the pension and it’s all your guy’s fault that we’re in this mess, uh, and-

Berkowitz: You were there, and he was pointing his finger at you?

Sen. Lauzen: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, in 1995, I was one of the lead co-sponsors of the plan that put us on a fifty year mortgage to get that squared away. There were two things that I was especially proud of in twelve years worth of work. One was truth in budgeting, where, uh, we had two sets of books; we got it back to one. And, the other was we had this gaping hole in the pension funds and the only way to do that is to pay it back, so we were on a fifty year mortgage. We paid it for ten years. We had that puppy solved and then one decision, they get off of it, and now our children, over the next thirty years, will have to pay thirteen times 2.3 billion dollars, uh, to pay it back.

Berkowitz: You’re sure of that number?

Sen. Lauzen: I’m positive of that.

Berkowitz: Thirteen times?

Sen. Lauzen: Jim Hacking-

Berkowitz: What is that, thirty billion dollars?

Sen. Lauzen: Yeah. Yes. Jim Hacking-

Berkowitz: What’s your source for that?

Sen. Lauzen: Um, Jim Hacking, the fellow who basically was fired from the state university retirement system-well, I mean, he resigned, but under, but under pressure-because he told the truth all spring, working with the actuaries to come up with the numbers. It is just irresponsible for one generation to spend the money and you saw two hundred million dollars of that, uh, go to Chicago pork projects, and then some pork projects-

Berkowitz: Pork? Do you think pork in Chicago?


Berkowitz: I’m shocked. Yes-

Lauzen: Well, okay. If those are the rules that people accept, then there’s little I can do about it. But I come into-

Berkowitz: Two hundred million dollars in pork, you’re saying, was necessary to get Democrats who might not otherwise have supported it [the budget and pension deal] to go along.

Sen. Lauzen: That’s what the Democratic leaders felt was necessary.

Berkowitz: Two hundred million, and, uh, nothing went to Republicans, because they didn’t sign up for the program-

Sen. Lauzen: Correct.

Berkowitz: And, they didn’t drink the new Kool-Aid; they drank the old Kool-Aid.

Sen. Lauzen:[laughs]

Transcribed by Amy Allen, who also does research for “Public Affairs,” and has her own political blog [See Obiterdictumblog, here]
State Senator Chris Lauzen [R-Aurora], recorded on June 29, 2005, as is airing on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs tonight, July 18 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at