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Hannity

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Urges Missing Democrats to Come Back to Avoid Layoffs

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 22, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The stalemate in Wisconsin rages on, but time has running out for lawmakers to come to terms on the proposed budget cuts.

Now earlier today in a statement to the AP, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker warned that state workers could begin receiving layoff notices as early as next week if the bill does not passed. And while the governor said he hopes it will not come to that, he doesn't have much of a choice as many Democrats remain in hiding even in this hour.

And joining me now with much more is the Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Lt. Governor, welcome back to the program. Thanks for being with us.

LT. GOVERNOR REBECCA KLEEFISCH, R-WIS.: Thanks for having me.

HANNITY: All right. So is it going to come down to -- first of all, does anybody found these guys? Are they still at the Best Western? And is it going to come down to having to lay off 1,500 people?

KLEEFISCH: Well, I sure hope not. And I know that these senators, the missing 14 have been found. They have been located. They've been talking to the media nonstop while they are taking this taxpayer-funded vacation. Because every single day they are out of town, Sean, they are costing the taxpayers a collective $1,915 in salaries, on top of that, health benefits. And now they are using their vacation to fundraise out of state.

We think that this is a very poor example to set when democracy has not come to a screeching halt in Madison. In fact, democracy continues, just without them. The Senate was in session today and they were passing legislation. And so we urge the missing 14 to come back to work because we know that we have the votes in both the Senate and in the assembly. We are hoping to avoid those layoffs.

But Governor Walker has warned, he has said over and over and again, that if this does not pass and Friday is drop dead date for us, because we have $165 million that we need to refinance on Friday. If this does not happen, we will be seeing massive lay-offs in the state of Wisconsin.

HANNITY: Governor, as I watch this debate very closely, and we had the governor on the program last night. Here we have the public that now is faced -- first of all, Wisconsin is a fairly high tax state. And you've got a $3.6 billion shortfall. And so, the public if they are like me, I have to pay for part of my pension. I have to pay for part of my health care benefits.

So, the public pays for their own benefits in some capacity, if they have those benefits. And then through their taxes, they pay for the benefits of all these employees. So, in essence they pay twice here.

Now, I looked at the record of the public schools in Wisconsin. You are not exactly shattering records. Your statistics quite frankly are off. How is the public involved on this, in your view?

KLEEFISCH: Well, right now, we are looking at about a seven-and-a-half percent unemployment rate in the state of Wisconsin. And I'd like to disagree with you on the taxes part because Governor Walker has opened Wisconsin for business again. He is actually incentivizing job creators coming to the state, staying in the state and creating jobs so we can put Wisconsinites back to work.

He pledged in the campaign to help the private sector create 250,000 new jobs at the end of four years. And I know that he's going to accomplish that goal because when Governor Walker says he's going to do something, he actually goes out and he makes sure he does it.

HANNITY: Yes. Well, it seems to me though that, you know, based on the salary figures that I'm looking at, are the people in the union, the unions that were talking about, do they get more than their private sector counterparts or less in terms of salary and benefits? Because seems like they have pretty generous benefits and salary.

KLEEFISCH: They do. And Sean, you and I know from working in the private sector that it would be ludicrous for you or I to go to our employer and ask our employer to pay both our employee and employer share of our 401(k). Something like that would be laughable in the private sector. Yet, it is happening everyday for government workers.

We are asking for a pension contribution of 5.8 percent. That is modest when it comes to the private sector. In addition to that, we are asking for health care contribution of 12.6 percent, that is half of the national average. And when you look at our cost drivers right now, our health care costs have risen 90 percent since 2002.

HANNITY: All right. Lt. Governor, we have to run -- what is your take on the Obama administration inserting itself in this?

KLEEFISCH: Well, we would like to encourage the president to deal with his own budgetary problems. We are facing $14 trillion in debt at the federal level. I think he needs to concentrate on that.

HANNITY: All right. Lt. Governor, thanks for being with us. We'll continue to follow the story. We appreciate your time.

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