One of the interesting features of Issue 2 is that people who are in favor of repealing SB 5 (or Issue 2 on the ballot) is that it will cut teachers salaries and thus hurt the children. In reality, that’s one of the scare tactics government unions are using to turn people against these reforms. Nothing in Issue 2 determines salary levels. It only ends the practice of handing out automatic pay raises, or “step” increases, and longevity pay – or bonuses just for holding the job for a certain period of time. Issue 2 also asks that performance be added as a factor in teacher compensation, a goal President Barack Obama set out in his national education policy in 2009. I am sure your private sector job doesn’t include automatic pay raises but factors in performance. Shouldn’t those who teach our kids also be held to the same or higher standards?
Another interesting “fact” being purported is that SB 5 actually cuts the salaries and benefits of government employees like policemen and firefighters. In reality, Issue 2 would not cut salaries or benefits for any government employee. Employees would simply be asked to pay a modest share of their benefits, just like employees in the private sector do. For health care coverage, they would pay at least 15% of their overall plan. (Many local government employees currently pay less than 9% of their health care premium, while the average private sector worker pays upwards of 30%.) In addition, employees would be required to pay their personal share of a retirement plan (only 10%), rather than asking taxpayers to pay that share. That’s not too much to ask at a time when many private sector workers get no retirement benefit at all. Finally, Issue 2 requires that benefits apply equally to all public employees, so no one gets special treatment.
And one of the most interesting radio spots that has been playing on the radio utilizes a scare tactic to say that there won’t be room for policemen or firefighters to bargain for more staff to meet the needs and will place you and your family in danger of some unforeseen situation like a fire or intruder in your home who might kill you.
Actually, the law regarding collective bargaining hasn’t changed. The new law states the same as the old law: “Public employees have the right to… bargain collectively with their public employers to determine wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment.” The only difference is that Issue 2 helps to better define what those “terms and conditions” are. Since the old law was passed nearly 30 years ago, government employee unions have successfully expanded the definition to include a laundry list of costly perks and fringe benefits that taxpayers can no longer afford. Senate Bill 5 simply restores the balance between the needs of our government employees and the ability of taxpayers to effectively manage their schools and services.
To keep Ohio healthy and get us back on track as a place to live, grow, do business and prosper our government workers shouldn’t worry about having to start contributing to their pension or health care. The private sector has already taken a huge hit in this rough economy. If we don’t reign in some of the costs and get our public servants also contributing and get some skin in the game, there won’t be any skin left for them to take from anyone.