News Tribune –
Freshman state Sen. Jim Oberweis made his way to the Illinois Valley as a speaker for a monthly meeting of the Bureau-La Salle Tea Party at the Elks Lodge in Oglesby.
Oberweis is a chairman of Oberweis Dairy, a business founded by his grandfather. He handed out ice cream before his speech.
The Republican from Sugar Grove shared his take on the atmosphere and attitude about politics in Springfield and what the state has at stake during a town hall-style meeting.
Bureau-La Salle Tea Party coordinator Art Havenhill said Oberweis was a heavy influence in the movement to oust GOP chairman Pat Brady, who came out in support of gay marriage earlier this year.
“It was for all the right reasons,” Havenhill said regarding the ouster.
Oberweis has served in the senate for six months and shared with the assembled crowd of about 55 people a well-known sentiment about the state — that “Illinois is in very difficult straits.”
“According to the state, our unfunded pension liability is about $100 billion. According to Moody’s, it’s about $200 billion. The difference de-pends on how you look at assets,” he said. “I spent most of my life in financial services… I understand pensions and pension funding. My best guess is that the real unfunded liability is somewhere around $140 billion. None of the pension plans that are on there are going to solve the problem.”
He said there is a “clash of egos” when it comes to the difference between House Speaker Michael Madigan’s and Senate President John Cullerton’s and their pension bills.
“Who’s going to be the big guy and who’s going to get their plan passed?” Oberweis said. “Neither one of them wants to back down. That’s why we have the so-called conference committee for a compromise between the two.”