SPRINGFIELD-Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) took questions after the Senate adjourned for the regular session and broke down the root of the pension debacle at the Capitol. Radogno also opined on Gov. Pat Quinn's involvement, or lack thereof, in fixing the pension problem. The following is a transcript of most of the interview.
Q: What happened?
A: "It's more like, 'what didn't happen.'"
"Obviously, there were some good things that happened...But I really believe that every positive thing is absolutely overshadowed by the catastrophic failure to accomplish pension reform."
Q: What will the legislative leaders and Quinn have to talk about?
A: "Well, it'll be an interesting meeting. I mean, it will be the first one in a long time, which is unfortunate. We should have been doing it all along."
"I had wished that the governor had called everybody together much, much earlier in the session. I mean, it just seems incredible to me that this deadline's been blown."
"I can't lay it all at the governor's feet. I mean, let's face it. The Democrats have supermajorities in both chambers plus the governor's mansion. We've had downgrades. We've talked about this for two years. It's not as if this was unknown."
"It's absolutely malfeasance. It's incredible."
Q: Whats at the root of not getting reform? Questions of constitutionality, numbers/savings, battle of personalities, all of the above?
A: "All of the above I would say. I mean, I think there is a little bit of all of that."
Q: What stands out?
A: "I mean, I think there's a real sincere difference in opinion in the framework, but I also think that there's also a personality issue here that's going to have to be resolved."
A: "Well, that's a good question. I don't know. I mean, I don't know what it's going to take, if it's going to take another downgrade. I certainly hope it doesn't mean more problems for the state, but it may."
Q: You mean personality issues between Madigan and Cullerton?
Q: But Cullerton said they talk all the time...
A: "They may talk all the time. I mean, that's wonderful, but the problem is they're not talking about the problem, trying to solve it and figure out a way around it."
Q: Could any of the problem have to do with elections coming up?
A: "Honestly, I don't know if it's that or who's going to be the top dog. I don't know."
Q: How has Gov. Pat Quinn handled this?
A: "He's a nice man, but I haven't seen a lot of really bringing people together the way I've seen other governors do that and really try and forge a deal. He doesn't have good relationships within the General Assembly. So, he doesn't really have people that he can call and work with. He's isolated himself, and I think that's unfortunate."
Q: People seemed optimistic when he was first put in office. What happened to that?
A: "Well, I think we're always optimistic when we have a new beginning. So, I think it's time for another new beginning now."
Q: What role did the possible gubernatorial run of Attorney General Lisa Madigan play, if any?
A: "My personal opinion is I don't think people are consciously thinking through every iteration of what we do and how it's going to play into the next race."
Q: So no?
A: "I don't. I don't think so."
Q: When's the last time Quinn met with all the leaders?
A: "Not in recent memory. Honestly, I think it's probably February. I don't remember. It's been that long."
"It's bad enough when you disagree on issues, but when you don't have any kind of a personal relationship as a framework to deal with disagreements, it makes it a lot harder."