Analyst: Border-wall divestment bill would hurt state's pensioners, businesses
In a charged statement and maneuver that opposes President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Illinois state Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) has proposed a House bill that would require those managing the state’s pension funds to divest investments in companies that may be hired by the Trump administration to build the border wall.
Mark Glennon, founder of Wirepoints, found the bill to be a ridiculous proposition that would chastise the wrong groups.
“I think it’s an embarrassing, silly proposal,” Glennon told Chicago News Wire. “First of all, the pensions should be honoring their fiduciary duties to maximize returns, and they shouldn’t be pursuing a political agenda like this.”
Glennon said pensioners should not be deprived of their returns due to political statements and activism, especially in light of the state’s ongoing pension crisis. The estimated pension liability is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.
“The people managing the money for the pensions have a fiduciary obligation to maximize returns,” Glennon said. “That should be their sole focus: getting the best returns they can for their pensioners. That should not be compromised by petty political goals and grand standing, which is all that this is.”
Glennon said a larger concern is that businesses and manufacturing in Illinois also would be punished and stigmatized by Guzzardi’s proposal.
“More importantly, to get at the people involved in building the wall would penalize a long list of Illinois companies starting with Caterpillar, for example, that would make the excavation equipment to build the wall,” Glennon said. “Any number of other companies that make construction materials and building materials would be penalized. To penalize them because of a political difference that the Illinois legislators have about immigration law with the federal government is just preposterous.”
Guzzardi’s district -- which includes parts of Avondale, Belmont-Cragin, Hermosa, Old Irving Park, Portage Park and Logan Square – has a large Latino population. Guzzardi said that many of his constituents have expressed concern about Trump’s anti-immigration stance.
Guzzardi said his fellow Democrats support his measure and urged Gov. Bruce Rauner to endorse it. Guzzardi doesn’t believe Rauner should veto it.
“I can’t imagine that this is going to become law...but it’s embarrassing to Illinois that this was even proposed,” Glennon said. “Gov. Rauner should veto the legislation, and I hope and expect that he would veto it."
Glennon said that, should the bill be passed, it would hurt the already-tenuous balance Illinois has with its manufacturing companies.
“The net result would be that manufacturing and manufacturing workers would suffer even more in Illinois,” Glennon said. “We need people employed in construction industry. We need people employed in places like Caterpillar that makes excavation equipment and building materials. The people who would be really punished would be the pensioners who would suffer a lower return because they were forced to sell good investments and the shareholders that make construction materials who are entirely innocent here. They should not be punished either.”