Gov. John Kasich said he understands why public employees are “nervous” about state Issue 2, the ballot issue that would restrict some collective-bargaining rights for those workers.
“They were told a lot of misinformation,” Kasich, a Republican, said Tuesday at a pro-Issue 2 rally outside the Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton.
Those opposed to Issue 2, Kasich said, make it seem as if there won’t be quality teachers in school systems and that there won’t be enough nurses in hospitals if the proposal passes in Tuesday’s election.
Kasich played down the bill’s impact, saying it does not eliminate collective bargaining and asks for workers to pay only 10 percent of their pension costs and at least 15 percent of their health-insurance premiums.
“We’re not asking for 50 percent of their health-care [premiums] or taking away their pensions,” Kasich said to about 200 supporters at the rally.
Bob Shilling of Salem, a high school teacher in the United school district who was among about 25 protesters at the rally, said he already pays 10 percent of his pension costs and 15 percent of his health-insurance premiums.
“I think that it’s right, when times are tough, to compromise,” said Shilling, who added he has no issue with the mandatory pension and health-insurance percentages in Issue 2.
But the issue, he said, also allows teachers to be fired based on evaluations, but it isn’t clear how they’d be evaluated.
“Issue 2 just goes too far,” Shilling said.
A plastic fence separated Issue 2 supporters and opponents. There were only a few verbal exchanges between the two sides.
Protesters shouted at Kasich, who immediately acknowledged them, saying, “I’m glad the folks who are unhappy with the bill are here. Maybe they’ll learn something they didn’t know.”
The protesters called Kasich everything from a “criminal” to a “traitor” to an “idiot,” the last a reference to comments Kasich made earlier this year about a Columbus police officer who had given him a traffic ticket years ago. Issue 2 opponents, including a few school-age children, wore neon green ‘No on 2’ shirts.
“What bothers me the most about John Kasich is the ads he ran against Ted Strickland that blamed him for the 400,000 jobs lost,” said Bob Comer, who said he had driven 45 minutes from Carroll County. Comer engaged in a heated discussion with an Issue 2 supporter after Kasich’s speech.
A Kasich supporter, Sheree Mollenkopf of Lisbon, who works as a bookkeeper for Thompson Brothers Mining Co. in New Springfield, said Kasich and she feel the same way.
“I totally support what he says,” she said.
After the speech, Kasich told reporters that Issue 2 is fair and allows communities to control costs.
When asked what happens if it fails, and polls are showing that to be the case, Kasich said to wait until after next week’s election before discussing what’s next.
“When voters speak, you need to listen to them,” he said.
But Kasich said if the issue is defeated, he’s going to have discussions with elected officials at the local level and ask what should be done to cut costs.
“Change is hard,” he said.
After the governor’s appearance in Columbiana County, he spoke at a similar rally before about 400 people in Ravenna. The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this report.