Share & Connect
Without the boisterous protests of Wisconsin, legislation in Ohio that would severely curb collective bargaining is speeding toward passage. The Ohio bill narrowly passed in the state senate on Wednesday by a margin of 17-16. Although protests have been held daily at Ohio’s capital for the past two weeks, the numbers have been nowhere near as large as the numbers in Wisconsin.
Ohio’s bill could go to House committee hearings as early as next week. The measure is likely to receive strong support from the full chamber and Republican Gov. John Kasich. The legislation is even more damaging to unions than the proposed measure in Wisconsin. It would restrict the bargaining rights of roughly 350,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees. They would no longer be able to negotiate health care benefits or certain working conditions, and they would be barred from striking. The bill would also eliminate all paid sick days for teachers. Whereas in Wisconsin the limits on collective bargaining would not apply to firefighters and police officers, in Ohio—there is no exemptions. The attack on the middle class is not hidden anymore, but plainly obvious.
Protesters and union members were surprised at the speed in which the bill was pushed through in Ohio. Democrats are far outnumbered in the state and were helpless to try to stop the bill. “For as far-reaching this thing is and how many lives it will affect, I can’t believe how fast it moved,” said Columbus Police Sgt. Shaun Laird.
Like in Wisconsin, the government claims that they need to limit collective bargaining to fix a budget shortfall. What is not well-reported is that Ohio has done all sorts of idiotic things that do the opposite of saving money. For starters, they eliminated corporate income tax a couple of years ago. Hey, that might have something to do with your budget shortfall, dudes. Now, the state, under Kasich, is trying to repeal the estate tax. Another money saving idea. These people are brilliant. Kasich, a multi-millionaire who raised money on Fox News where he used to work, also has rejected a $400 million federal grant to upgrade the state’s passenger rail system, which would have created at least a thousand direct jobs and thousands more indirectly, along with a jump in state tax revenue. Kasich meanwhile gave a huge raise to his chief of staff paying him $40,000 more than the chief of staff of his predecessor. He has hired at least four commissioners to sit on a “job creation” panel with annual salaries of roughly $150,000 each. The commission has been structured to operate without formal accountability to the legislature or taxpayers of the state. After he was elected governor, Kasich refused to live in the governor’s house in Bexley and instead maintained residence in Westerville. This cost taxpayers a few million dollars in security overhauls for his own personal house, plus transportation costs. He also rented the 30th floor of the Riffe Center for his primary office, not in the Statehouse, which would be free.
And, yes, this complete idiot and his cronies in the state GOP have the nerve to ask firefighters, teachers, and police officers to sacrifice. They do not know the first thing about sacrifice. I, along with many others in America, can talk about difficult choices, crushing debt, and overdue bills. Kasich obviously has no clue what that is like. It would seem to be that either Republicans are brain dead morons – a distinct possibility – or Kasich is hiding these public numbers pretty good. Unless you are in the top .1 percent of earners in Ohio, I haven’t got a clue why this attack on the middle class is justifiable. It is time for a recall. No one should get away with this complete abuse of power in the name of austerity.