Utah lawmakers struggled again Monday with the failed thrift problem, arguing over how much taxpayer money to risk in the settlement with 15,000 depositors who lost $106 million in 1986.
Two main proposals were before senators and House members.One "loans" $15 million to depositors, with the money being paid back when assets in the thrifts are liquidated. Depositors and the state split liquidation proceeds 50-50 until the state is repaid, then depositors keep the rest.
The other proposal buys the thrift assets - estimated value $32.1 million - for $29 million. If the assets turn out to be worth less than $29 million, and there are some pretty shaky assets in the failed thrifts, then the state loses the difference. If the assets turn out to be worth more than $29 million, the state keeps the money.
The first proposal would enable depositors to receive about $100 million of the $106 million they had on deposit when five thrifts and loans and a state-created deposit insurance fund - the Industrial Loan Guaranty Corp. - were taken over by the state. The remaining $6 million would be collected by depositors suing thrift owners and other industry officials.
The second proposal, mailed to lawmakers over the weekend, would return about $90 million of depositors' savings. It would require depositors to turn their claims against thrift owners to the state, and not allow them to file suit to recover additional money.
About 15,000 depositors, represented by the organization Depositors of Insured Thrifts, have filed a class-action suit against the state and thrift-industry officials to recover savings lost in the failure of five thrifts.
Gov. Norm Bangerter had negotiated a settlement with depositors' attorneys and hoped for legislative ratification of the settlement two weeks ago. Several issues have continued to hold up settling with depositors, with about one month before elections. The depositors have organized politically and will oppose those who don't favor a settlement with them.
Depositors' attorneys have agreed to the first proposal by Sen. Fred Finlinson, R-Murray. But the latest bill, which does not indicate a sponsor, most likely won't fly as a settlement with depositors, several of them said Monday.
"We can't take it seriously," said an attorney for the depositors. "They want to short us $10 million and then make a $3 million profit."
Lawmakers also appear far from agreement on how to settle Utah's festering thrift crisis. They were optimistic they could settle the problems and vote a settlement up or down Monday. But they've already met three times on the issue and plans could fall apart again, requiring legislators to meet Tuesday or return at a later day.