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Ohio’s future rests with SB5

Published: Sun, July 3, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

The vote that Ohioans will cast in November on the new law restricting collective-bargaining rights for public employees will establish the direction the state will follow in years to come.

If the law, generally referred to as Senate Bill 5, is endorsed by the voters, Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican dominated General Assembly will be justified in viewing the outcome as an invitation to go even further in their assault on organized labor and public employees.

On the other hand, if Ohioans scuttle the collective bargaining-reform law in November, it will force the governor and the Legislature to reassess their agenda as it pertains to the 360,000 public-union employees.

In other words, there is much more at stake than just SB5.

Last November, Kasich, a former congressman, led a Republican juggernaut that captured every statewide office. Democrats are still licking their wounds, but the vote on SB5 would be their resurrection. That is why they assumed such a leading role in the petition drive. The labor unions, public employees and the Democrats secured 1,298,301 signatures in just three months.


The drive has energized the opponents of SB5, which means the next four months will be a political sight to behold.

But Republicans have also been energized — by the legislation they have rammed through the General Assembly. The new laws are tilting Ohio to the political right.

Consider the $56 million biennium budget that Kasich orchestrated and the GOP legislators embraced. The spending blueprint was presented under the guise of filling an $8 billion revenue shortfall that the Republicans have blamed on former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.

On Wednesday, after the budget had been approved by the House and Senate, Ohio Right to Life issued a press release under the following heading: “Ohio Legislature Passes Pro-Life State Budget — Four Right to Life amendments included in final budget legislation.”

“Among other things, the state budget contains Ohio Right to Life amendments that will protect taxpayer dollars from paying for abortion,” the release states.

There are many other tidbits like that one scattered throughout the budget, which reflect the GOP’s conservative bent.

But all that will pale in comparison to what Kasich and his political allies will do if Senate Bill 5 is embraced by the people of Ohio in the general election.

In May, House Speaker William Batchelder unveiled a measure creating a 32-member Constitutional Modernization Commission that would review the Constitution and recommend changes.

According to the Associated Press, voters will get the chance next year to decide whether to call a constitutional convention, a question that comes up every 20 years.

The wire service quoted the speaker as saying such a process worked well in the 1970s. Voters last approved a call for a convention in 1910.

Why now?

Jim Provance, the Toledo Blade’s Columbus bureau chief, quoted Batchelder thus:

“Issues addressing the number of local governments and school districts in the state, tax structure, local home rule, and the state constitutional role when it comes to education could all be ripe for debate when it comes to ‘modernization’ of the Ohio Constitution.”


That’s all well and good, but here’s an issue that Kasich and the Republicans can be expected to pursue with the constitutional commission: Making Ohio a right-to-work state.

Shortly after Kasich’s victory in last November’s gubernatorial election, a long-time Republican political operative in Columbus discussed the new governor’s agenda. At the top of the list: Stripping public employees of many of the rights they have enjoyed for decades under the original collective-bargaining law. Next on the list: Making Ohio a right-to-work state.

While neither the governor nor the Republican legislative leaders have publicly endorsed the idea, prominent GOP supporters have talked about Ohio’s disadvantage in job creation when competing against states that have laws on the books that create open shops in the workplace.

That is why the SB5 vote is crucial.


1chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Ex-Gov. Stickland kept the public union employees afloat by diverting a large of the "shovel-ready stimulus funds" and the tobacco funds to paying these union employees, theiri health-care, pensions and other benefits. No wonder Strickland didn't want to provide a budget where a $5-8 billion deficit was in his view. Great job of side-stepping the issue. At least, Gov Kasich is taking the bull by the horns and providing a firm financial footing for the people and businesses, no matter how unpopular.

Compare Kasich's leadership versus Strickland's placating his poitical base.

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2palbubba(721 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Well you will have to look no further than Bertrams column on backing Dann to figure out that he has no clue about right or wrong, good or evil. With his biased blinders I am not sure why anyone would find anything he has to say relavent. Oh I get it, those that agree are wearing the same biased blinders. Condemn SB5 all you want, but I believe it will help. Remember the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

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3AnotherAverageCitizen(1176 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Of course Goc christie thinks his plan is the best for the country. I would guess most Gov's think their plan is best. But we are the U. S. 50 DIFFERENT state. Each state independently ran. Maybe we should get rid of kasich and his staff and let Gov from NJ run us. Gov daniels from Indiana seems be the guy kasich follows so much. As soon as daniels took officice he screwed the unions and then sold off turnpike. Just look at how much their turnpike rates have risen since.

Like I have said many times, if it is truely about saving money Then ALL public workers in Ohio should raise the amount of pension and health bene's percentage to the same amount. Gov should start leading by example. Start with himself, his staff and ALL administrations throughout the state. But that is not being done. SB5 is not about saving Money, or else kasich would start implementing sb5 rules now to noncontraccted employees.

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4JoeMoe(2 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Why bother trashing the collective bargaining rights of public employees? When SB5 goes down to resounding defeat in November, buried by the tidal wave of anti-Republican back-lash (and we'll see it all over the country), watch Kaysick use his suddenly slim GOP majorities to ramrod salary caps on various disparate public jobs.

His ultimate goal, as I have said before, is to use this as a springboard to the presidency in '12, when his campaign slogan might very well be "Help me 'fix' Medicare and Social Security the way we 'fixed' collective bargaining in Ohio."

And the fix is in.

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5RobertAlphonso(74 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Stricklands last budget = $50 Billion.

Kasich claimed we faced an $8 Billion hole.

Kasichs budget.....wait for it..... $55 BILLION!!!!

Strickland actually kept spending under control. While kasich is using LOTS of one time money and parlor tricks to SPEND SPEND SPEND.

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