By Marc Kovac
Third of a four-part series
Senate Bill 5 dominated newspaper headlines in 2011, drawing thousands of protesters to the Ohio Statehouse and a heated election campaign that resulted in the defeat of a collective-bargaining reform package written by Republicans and supported by Gov. John Kasich.
Kasich said voters sent a clear message with the November election results.
While he supports helping local governments better control their costs, he told reporters during a year-end speech and question-and-answer session earlier this month that he would wait to hear what those officials want him to do next on the issue.
“The ocean is full of sharks; and sometimes you get the sharks and sometimes the sharks get you,” Kasich said. “The people spoke, and when people speak in great numbers in great unanimity, you listen to them.”
He added, “I’m looking for additional tools, but look, the people were pretty clear. The cities are going to have to come to me and say what they want.”
Helping Local Governments
“What I’m looking forward to is what do these communities want us to do to be able to help them with the ease of doing business, because there is no more money. We’re not passing money back out again. That’s not going to happen. There is no money tree.
“But we are talking to them all the time about improvements that they can have to help them ease their challenges in their local governments, because I think raising taxes at the local level is just devastating to creating an environment where we can get businesses.
“Let me tell you, some people think you can tax your way to prosperity. The way you get the revenue in the state ... when you create jobs, people pay taxes and you get more revenue. If you raise taxes, you drive businesses out, and it’s like a dog chasing his tail.”
Controlling School Costs
“We offered them some tools, they didn’t like them. They need to come with other tools. ... One of the concerns that I have about schools in Ohio is that we have lots of money being spent on infrastructure and not enough of those dollars end up in the classroom. ... If you’re going to put infrastructure ahead of dollars in the classroom you’re not going to get the kind of results and you’re not going to control your costs. ... We’ve offered them some tools, and they’ve accepted some of those tools, like the shared services.
“The village of Green, for example, has their school board and their school operation housed in the same building as the city.
“So these are difficult times. ... But if we raise taxes and we drive companies out, our problems are going to be exacerbated.”
Impact of the SB 5 Defeat
“I know you folks are so fixated on this. That was a time where the shark ate me. It’s OK. … It’s just one thing that happened, and it was a big deal because there were a lot of protests and things like that.
“But you missed the story, and, you know, someday the story will really be written about what happened here. About an unbelievable level of change that’s happened in the state of Ohio and the benefits of that change.
“But I don’t always get it right. I make mistakes. That’s just the way it goes. If you cannot lose something and take it like a man or like a leader and learn from it, you haven’t learned anything about life. They just said no.
“I’m OK with that. It’s cool. We move to the next thing. I’m not mad at anybody.
“I think one thing you have to do when you have big issues is prepare.
“You’ve got to prepare the groundwork to tell people about why you need big change. … You can’t solve problems in most cases when people don’t think one exists. You’ve got to build your case a little bit better, and you have to have some people on the outside talk about it.”