Monday, February 28, 2011

4 of the 10 most conservative House members are Ohioans

Yes, we are the home of nutjob and part-time Wiggle, Dennis Kucinich. However, we can certainly be proud of our GOP delegation. Not only do we count the Speaker among our members, but our guys are among the most conservative as well.
A study released last week by National Journal magazine in Washington lists four Republicans from Ohio among the 10 most-conservative members of the U.S. House.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, earned a tie for first by voting the conservative position 95 percent of the time on 93 key House votes last year. He was followed by Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, with 94.5 percent; House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, with 94.2percent; and Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, with 94 percent.

Boehner's votes came when he was minority leader. As speaker now, he rarely votes.
It will also come as no surprise that we also have the most liberal Senator.
The same survey rated (Sherrod) Brown as tied with eight other senators for the most-liberal voting record of 2010, at 83.3 percent.
We have work to do in 2012, people.

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Public Unions for Higher Taxes

Senate Bill 5 threatens the stranglehold government unions hold on too many state offices, school districts, and local governments. To public employees who accept without blinking the rhetoric their union dues fund – and have no idea where else their money goes – SB 5 is fascism, doom, and an attack on the middle class:

Anita Barton, a high-school guidance counselor from St. Mary’s, said Kasich is making public employees scapegoats for the state’s financial crisis.

“Why is he so afraid of collective bargaining?” Barton asked. “Why is he so afraid that we have representation? If you don’t have representation as a whole, as an individual you don’t have a voice.”

What you might not realize is that SB 5 revokes all Facebook, Twitter, and email privileges from public employees. If the bill passes, teachers and guidance counselors will no longer be permitted to speak with their principals or superintendents. All school board proceedings will henceforth be sealed from the public, and any government employee seen colluding with a local newspaper or television station will be summarily executed.

One quote from an Ohio dentist gets to the heart of the matter:

“We need a strong middle class,” Gregory said. “Workers have to make a decent wage so they can pay their dentist.”

Public employees are nowhere near representative of the middle class. I know I’m repeating myself here, but it’s hardly my fault the opponents of Senate Bill 5 keep making the same awful arguments. Every dollar given to a government employee has to be taken from Ohio taxpayers. Dollars do not become more valuable simply because the government has moved them around. The unions, Democrats, and socialist fellow-travelers want taxes increased... despite Ohio’s unemployed outnumbering public employees, and taxpayer migration looking like this:

No matter how many times Governor Kasich says “I’m not anti-union,” the unions will scream that the GOP is attacking union employees and by extension all workers. Unless you’re in the Communist Party wing of the SB 5 opposition, you can’t openly call for higher taxes – but that’s exactly what SB 5 opponents are demanding. Will government ever be big enough for these people?

Cross-posted at that hero.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Ted Strickland and Ohio Democrats "balanced" the budget

We have a major budget shortfall in Ohio. We have all heard the number. $8 billion. Ohio's stagnant population growth and slow economy helped create this, and it is going to require large cuts to almost every part of the state budget.

Of course, we are required to have a balanced budget. Running a deficit like the federal government does is not an option. And this $8 billion hole is not a new problem. So how did they do it?

Did they reduce spending to a sustainable level that would keep our budget in check for years beyond? No. What they did is outlined below. It's as irresponsible as it gets, as you will see. They were all band-aid type, one-time fixes that have made crafting this years budget even harder.

This is the easy path that they took 2 years ago (Ohio's budget is biennial). This is the mess that Ted Strickland left for John Kasich.

  • Federal "stimulus" money: $4,195,375,224
    This is the part most people have heard about, but it is only half of how they plugged the hole. Our federal tax dollars that were supposed to stimulate the economy and create jobs, instead went to fund state government in Ohio, and many other states. And people wonder why the stimulus was a huge, very expensive failure. Federal stimulus funds for this year's budget: $0
  • HB 318 Income Tax Rate Increase: $844,400,000
    An income tax cut had been passed under the previous administration, and was being phased in over a number of years. For one year, the planned incremental rate decrease was delayed. This was done later in the year, so some folks found themselves owing money to the state because their paycheck withholding had been set for the lower rate that was supposed to have been in effect. This was a cancellation of a tax cut, therefore, it was a tax increase for the year. Democrats still refuse to call it that. Governor Kasich has ruled out raising taxes in this way again. Therefore, funds of this type available for this year's budget: $0
  • Debt Refinancing: $735,900,000
    The state refinanced its debt for a one-time infusion of cash, just like you might refinance your mortgage and get cash out. Not a way to meet a budget, but they did it. Cash from debt refinancing available for this year's budget: $0
  • Tobacco Trust Fund Liquidation: $627,622,890
    Remember that huge tobacco lawsuit a few years ago? The money was put into a trust fund to be used for stop smoking support programs and education. It was not ever supposed to go into the general fund. But Ted Strickland and the Democrats did just that. They used every last dollar. It's gone. $0
  • Unclaimed funds transfer: $385,000,000
    These are funds that go unclaimed by folks who don't realize they have money waiting for them somewhere. Sometimes you'll see the local news programs list some names and the amount of money they have waiting for them. It sits in an account administered by the state. Well, they used this money too. It doesn't belong to the state, it still belongs to people who come to claim it, so future claims will have to be paid out of the general fund until the account is repaid. Nice, huh?
  • Prior fiscal year roll-forward balances: $364,300,000
    This one is self-explanatory. Balances available to roll forward into this year's budget? $0
  • eFMAP extension: $293,400,000
    These were another series of one-time monies from the federal government. eFMAP extension money expected for this year's budget: $0
  • School Facilities Commission "Loan": $250,000,000
    More money taken for the general fund from an account that is not supposed to be used for such expenses. Available for this year's budget: $0
  • Medicare Part D payment reduction: $151,500,000
    Another one-time source of funds from the federal government. Expected amount for this year: $0
  • Assumed spending lapses: $428,185,965
    Amount expected for this year's budget: $0
  • Other "raids": $594,197,510
Total one-time funds used to balance the 2010-2011 budget: $8,869,881,589

Regarding the "other" category, many accounts and funds were raided to balance the budget. For example, when you renew your license plates, you know how you are asked if you want to donate $1 to the Save our Sight program for children? Yeah. They raided millions from that, too. The Dispatch published a story about it, and all of a sudden Ted Strickland claimed not to know anything about it, and promised the money would be restored. But it shows the lengths they went to to patch up that budget, instead of making the hard choices that Governor Kasich and the legislature are now willingly taking on.

If you think the fireworks in Columbus will end once the Senate Bill 5 controversy has passed, think again. Necessarily, there will be many program cuts, and almost everybody will be protesting cuts to their particular piece of the pie.

The Governor will introduce his proposed budget into the Ohio House around the middle of March, at which point the House will take time to have their say before it goes to the Senate. His budget will do what should have been done previously, which is to reduce spending so that one-time fixes are not needed. Tax increases are also out of the question, since we are already one of the more heavily taxed states, and further increases will only make us that much less attractive to business.

John Kasich took this job knowing the enormous challenge that was waiting for him. Instead of trying to please everybody and insisting nothing is wrong like the previous governor, he is talking to us like grownups, and letting us know that we are in a bad situation and that we have to make some hard choices to secure our future and stop Ohio's slide into an abyss. I'll take that leadership over timidity any day.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Senate Bill 5: Big Numbers, Tiny Details

As reported by The Dispatch, Senate Bill 5 could save Ohio and local governments big bucks. This comes as no surprise, considering that government unions are constantly asking for more public funds - often from politicians they helped elect. There's one thing, though, that I haven't seen much commentary on:
Senate Democrats did not submit amendments. A collaboration of every major public union except the Fraternal Order of Police said yesterday that the bill is too flawed to fix, and Democrats agree.
Of course Democrats agree! Ohio's Democrats are bought and paid for by the unions. Their failure to submit amendments - after weeks of complaining about being excluded - proves again the hollowness of the union narrative. Ohio is $8 billion in the hole, but the AFSCME and OEA refuse to participate in any process that could weaken their influence.

It's beyond me why Republican senators feel a need to cater to the unions. If anything, SB 5 should go further to limit union power: government unions work against the electorate. Squeezing taxpayers for more money is the reason public employee unions exist! But, the unions continue spouting class warfare tropes that would make a socialist blush, despite this devastating editorial from Wednesday:
That public-sector workers are not representative of Ohio's middle class is evident in the numbers. According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, Senate Bill 5 will affect 42,000 state workers, 19,500 higher-education employees and about 298,000 employees of local governments such as counties, municipalities, townships and school districts.

That totals 359,500 employees, a mere 6.5 percent of Ohio's workforce of 5.5 million. In fact, the number of public-sector employees is far outnumbered by more than 500,000 Ohioans who want to work but can't find jobs.
If we can't count on the Ohio Senate, at least Governor Kasich has the right idea. Though I'd like to see the governor draw a clearer line between public and private unions, Friday on Cavuto he made some great points about efficient government being better for everyone in the long run:

Cross-posted at that hero.

SB5 would have saved taxpayers $1.3 billion last year

So says the state Office of Collective Bargaining in a new study.
State and local governments would have saved an estimated $1.3 billion in 2010 on health insurance and automatic pay increases if the limits imposed by Senate Bill5 were in effect, according to a new analysis by the state Office of Collective Bargaining.
The cost analysis focused on three provisions in the bill: that workers must pay at least 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance, and the elimination of automatic step and longevity pay increases currently built into most contracts.

The analysis estimates the state would have saved $217 million last year, while the savings for schools and local governments would have topped $1.1 billion.
If you double the state number alone for Ohio's biennial budget, $434 million would be a good start on closing the $8 billion shortfall we face.

While the public employee unions and Democrats insist that the sky is falling, its important to remember that there are other states that have already enacted these kinds of reforms. Our neighbors in Indiana and West Virginia are among them.

Finally, watch this video and share it with your friends and family. And call your state Senator to ask them to support this bill. Its time to fix Ohio.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Ohio's Senator Portman delivers this week's GOP address

Our new Senator was chosen to give the address this week. He brings up a good point halfway in about the President's Debt Commission. When he formed the commission, he said the time of kicking the can down the road was over. Yet, in his new budget last week, he ignored every single recommendation made by the bipartisan commission HE created. He continues to kick the can, with $1 trillion-plus deficits for years to come.

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Public employee unions vs taxpayers

A couple of good videos making their way around. They should've put Ted Strickland in the section about politicians being lobbied by unions with tax dollars.

I added a second video for the sheer entertainment value of these union members' arguments. These people are seriously comparing themselves to Jews in Nazi Germany.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Governor Kasich is an evil squirrel or something...

You must see this ridiculously bad and laughable cartoon. Commissioned by The New Media Firm, the same folks hired by the Ohio Democratic Party and Ted Strickland, it is another attempt to further the false narrative that public-sector unions speak for all of us in the middle class.

Its a takeoff from the popular iPhone game "Angry Birds". The result is... well, just watch.

Angry Buckeyes from Evan Twohy on Vimeo.

A friend noted that Kasich actually appears to be protecting middle class taxpayers from the union hordes at the statehouse, who are only out to preserve their privileged status.

I think I lost an IQ point after watching this. If someone actually spent money on this, they should be embarrassed.

Update: The video has been removed from Vimeo, but I found it on YouTube.

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Ted Strickland, a sad spectacle indeed

Today's editorial about Ted Strickland's behavior in the Columbus Dispatch is a must read. There isn't much I can add to it. We've been highlighting Ted's sore loser, hyper-partisan mentality ever since he was defeated in November.

I don't remember Taft doing this to Strickland, or Bush to Obama, or Clinton to Bush, even. Pathetic.

You should read the whole thing, but here are a couple of highlights.
Sadly, former Gov. Ted Strickland has not taken that high road, instead choosing almost from the moment the November ballots were counted to try to torpedo his successor, Gov. John Kasich.


Last Thursday, Strickland made an appearance at a Statehouse rally against Ohio Senate Bill 5. Then he upped the ante by authoring an e-mail, distributed by the Ohio Democratic Party, urging supporters to join him at another rally at the Statehouse on Tuesday.

At both, he basked in the attention of union supporters.

The adulation is unsurprising, given how consistently Strickland's policies as governor favored organized labor over the interests of all taxpayers. And that is one of the reasons he no longer occupies the governor's mansion.


Instead of turning around Ohio as he promised, he kept it on a steady course toward a fiscal abyss, propping up the state budget with $8 billion in one-time money and doing nothing to prepare the state to stand without that artificial prop.

It is he who handed the new governor and legislature the present financial crisis, a crisis that is a major impetus for the drive to reform collective bargaining. And closing this budget shortfall is likely to require punishing cuts in state spending that will harm every Ohioan.

Gee. Sounds an awful lot like what we have been saying here at 3BP, doesn't it?

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Democrats use SB5 to raise funds, then get furious that Kasich uses SB5 to raise funds

Democrats and the left started tweeting a couple of days ago about a fund-raising email sent out by the Kasich camp that references Senate Bill 5, in addition to other issues.

The Ohio Democratic Party tweeted this:

An Ohio left-wing blog tweeted and posted this:

Outrageous! Unbelievable! The Democrats would NEVER do that!

Right, Chris Redfern?

Right sore loser Ted Strickland?


I'd also like to hear someone explain to me how John Kasich "attacked" the people who demonstrated at the Statehouse.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Attention public sector unions: you are not the middle class

A few days ago, while highlighting the union hyperbole over Senate Bill 5, we questioned this statement from a prominent left-wing blog:
"This is Republicans waging a class war against the middle class."

"So the entire middle class is public-sector union members? And having them be back on an equal footing with their private-sector neighbors is "waging war"?"
Since then, we're seeing it even more. It seems every time we hear from the anti-SB5 crowd, they liken this issue as determining the fate of the "middle class in Ohio".

Last week, Ohio Democrat Chairman Chris Redfern sent out an email claiming "If Senate Bill 5 passes, it would turn back the clock on 28 years of progress for our middle class."

Sore loser
Ted Strickland says "The fate of Ohio's middle class is on the line at the Ohio Statehouse."

Let's get something straight here. Public-sector unions do NOT comprise or even represent the middle class in America. Echoing our sentiment from a few days ago, the Columbus Dispatch had this to say,
"The idea that the bill is an attack on Ohio's middle class is one being repeated not only by Strickland but by other Democratic leaders and officials of the state's public-sector unions.

The assertion is a flat contradiction of reality.

Not only are the public-sector workers affected by Senate Bill 5 not representative of the majority of Ohio's middle class, but the comfortable wages, automatic raises, benefits, pensions, job protections, sick-day payouts and negotiating power enjoyed by many of these public-sector workers comes at the expense of the vast majority of Ohio's middle-class taxpayers. Most of these taxpayers have nothing remotely like these benefits nor the economic security that the public sector takes for granted and regards as a right."
Public sector workers make up 6.5% of Ohio's workforce. That's fewer than the number of people unemployed in the state right now. Yet the unions and Democrats continue to insult us with this inflammatory language about "attacking the middle class."

Remember how we characterized this issue in a nutshell here at 3BP last night?
"Senate Bill 5 will put government workers back on the same playing field as most of us in the private sector. It really is that simple.

"They don't want to be on the same playing field as you and I. They want to keep their protected status. That's why they're going crazy."
Yeah, the Dispatch agreed with that, too.
"There is no question that Senate Bill 5 is about the middle class. But it is not an attack, it is an attempt to restore to Ohio's middle class the control of the government it pays for and elects.

"The few thousand public-sector workers who turned out to protest Senate Bill 5 yesterday were not looking out for Ohio's middle class. They were looking out for their own privileged status, one that is out of reach for most Ohio taxpayers."

So please, unions, continue to protest all you want. It's your right. But know this. The "middle class" rhetoric you're using to try to scare people? We know better. And it isn't working.

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It's a shame Ted Strickland wasn't this passionate about keeping jobs in Ohio

Remember just a few days ago, when I said this?
Yes, Ted Strickland, you are a sore loser.
The Columbus Dispatch concurs, with this rather blunt headline.

"Rejection at the polls". Ouch.

Ted is fired up about Senate Bill 5. He's getting personally involved and fighting with everything he has to keep it from passing.

Too bad he could never get himself so agitated over Ohio's attractiveness (or lack thereof, rather) to businesses. We could have used that kind of fire in his belly to keep so many jobs from leaving for other states.

Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine agreed,
"The only thing Ted Strickland demonstrated today is that he still doesn't get it," Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine said. "If he had put this much energy into job creation during his time as governor, maybe today's event would have been a rally to welcome a major employer to the Buckeye State instead of a reminder of the failed policies of administrations past, especially his."
It's pretty obvious to everyone isn't it? When it came to fighting for Ohio, Ted was a timid governor. Threaten the privileged status of his public union donors, and then he finds his fury.

No wonder the voters rejected him.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Union Racket 101 - AFSCMEconomics

The union line is “workers’ rights,” and job one is convincing workers the right they need most is collective bargaining. The AFSCME is in the collection business: in return for your (sometimes mandatory) dues you’ll receive union protection. In theory.

Here’s the snag in their solidarity shtick: unions like the AFSCME generally charge dues as a percentage of salary. Let’s say your salary is $30,000 — how important are you to the union? If your answer is anything besides “less than 1/3 as important as someone paid $100,000,” you might need to reconsider for a minute. Think the union bosses care more about your well-being than their income?

If so, disbursements to AFSCME officers and employees would probably be less than the amount paid into member pension and insurance accounts. Right?

Public Union Union Pay, 2009 Benefits, 2009 Benefits as a %
of Union Pay
AFSCME Local 4 (OAPSE) $5,675,756.00 $1,801,307.00 32%
AFSCME Local 11 (OCSEA) $6,087,169.00 $2,511,880.00 41%
AFSCME Council 8 $6,190,855.00 $1,920,227.00 31%

AFSCME Local 4, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE), had 33,617 members in 2009. Local 11, the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), had 30,870 members. Council 8 had 36,792 members.

Looking out for… Somebody

  • Joseph Rugola, OAPSE Executive Director: $216,939
  • Gary Martin, OAPSE Associate Director: $200,163
  • Charles Roginski, OAPSE Regional Director: $164,239
  • John Lyall, AFSCME Council 8 President: $155,482
  • Andy Douglas, OCSEA Executive Director: $151,392
  • Harold Mitchell, AFSCME Council 8 First Vice President: $148,265
  • Tom Drabick, OAPSE Director of Legal Department: $144,517
  • Lloyd Rains, OAPSE Regional Director: $140,238
  • R. Sean Grayson, AFSCME Council 8 General Counsel: $130,891
  • Steve Myers, OAPSE Regional Director: $128,741

In fiscal 2009, the OAPSE paid 21 employees and officers more than $100,000. AFSCME Council 8 paid 14 employees and officers more than $100,000. The OCSEA paid 3 employees more than $100,000. Altogether, the three paid 119 union employees & officers $70,000 or more (view spreadsheet).

But the unions can’t be that bad! After all, they’re universally supported by Ohio Democrats, and the Democratic Party always has the underdog’s interests at heart — right?

Public Union Contributions
to Democrats,
to Republicans,
GOP contributions
as a %
of Dem contributions
AFSCME Local 4 (OAPSE) $2,848,216.25 $250.00 0.009%
AFSCME Local 11 (OCSEA) $1,054,561.42 $41,000.00 3.89%
AFSCME Council 8 $625,591.20 $250.00 0.04%

The AFSCME increases its reach with each additional unionized office, gains income with every pay raise a member receives, and spends millions in dues electing Democrats to support the mythology of collective bargaining as a fundamental right. If you aren’t near the top of the government union pyramid scheme, there’s no reason not to call your senator and ask ‘em to support Senate Bill 5!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering… the Ohio branch of the National Education Association is no better than our AFSCME locals.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Union protesters vandalize Ohio statehouse

Stay classy, unions!

Photo courtesy Jason Mauk

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The Collective Bargaining issue in a nutshell. Kasich nails it.

Repealing collective bargaining laws is not "anti-worker", or anti-teacher or anti-police. The powerful public unions use those words to scare you. The laws themselves are anti-taxpayer.

Collective bargaining laws have made government workers a protected class and puts them above their private sector neighbors.

Senate Bill 5 will put government workers back on the same playing field as most of us in the private sector. It really is that simple.

They don't want to be on the same playing field as you and I. They want to keep their protected status. That's why they're going crazy.

Because of how hard the economy has hit the private sector, we have lost over 600,000 private sector jobs in Ohio since 2000. How many government jobs were lost in the same period? 1600.

Since 1990, Ohio has added a net 102,200 private sector jobs, but a whopping 62,100 government jobs. It's one of the reasons we are facing an $8 billion deficit.

Watch Governor Kasich explain this to Bill Hemmer. He hits the nail on the head.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Union Aces: Communists and Jesse Jackson

Tuesday is bound to be an exciting day at the Ohio statehouse, with an alphabet soup of unions, Organizing for America, and every other leftist group you can name hauling their members downtown to demand that taxpayers prop up public unions into perpetuity. Wednesday will be fun, too, with the AFL-CIO, Ohio Federation of Teachers, and Progress Ohio flying beloved non-huckster Jesse Jackson into town!

What do the unions hate about Senate Bill 5 (other than “everything”)?

The radical measure to abolish the right, established in 1984, of public employees to bargain over wages, hours, working conditions, health care, and pensions, would also eliminate seniority as a basis for pay increases and layoffs, increase employee contributions to health care and pensions, abolish the right to strike and allow the state to permanently replace workers who do strike.

Sometimes knowing who supports a cause can tell you a lot about it; that quote, for instance, is from Communist Party USA. Note the conflation of union power with workers’ rights, and ask yourself whether the union position differs from the Communist Party’s in any way.

I’ve already thrashed the talking points from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which are thin gruel given the AFSCME’s massive budget. What lines are Ohio Education Association (OEA) bosses feeding the union’s membership? Here are the first 5 from an email sent out last week:

Teachers did not create the recession and stripping us of our rights won’t fix it. Stop fighting partisan battles of the past and stop the scapegoat of public employees.

So much wrong in two sentences. Fine, public employees didn’t create the recession – does that mean unionization is a net positive? The rights-stripping bit sounds awful, until you remember the unions must keep teachers dependent in order to get paid. The “partisan battles” stuff is a non-starter: the OEA had no trouble with partisan battles during the 2010 election cycle, when they were spending $1.6 million to keep their politicians in office.

SB5 will make teaching unattractive and will make it difficult for Ohio schools to attract and retain high quality teachers.

Unemployment in Ohio is above 9%. State records show 1,460 people paid more than $75,000 – plus benefits – in Columbus City Schools in 2010. 1,109 were paid over $75k in the Cleveland Metro district. 533 were paid over $75k in Cincinnati City Schools. Those numbers aside, has the OEA ever complained about high tax rates driving citizens away?

Collective bargaining works and is good for kids. It allows two groups to come together and discuss issues and come to a consensus on those issues. Teacher’s working conditions are student learning conditions.

Collective bargaining works for the unions. What would prevent teachers from discussing and resolving issues with their districts in the absence of richly compensated OEA officials?

States with strong unions and collective bargaining laws have higher ranked education systems than those who don’t.

Citation? Based on what metrics? How much higher ranked? At what cost? If I buy a $125,000 car, it’s probably going to be faster than one that costs $15,000. Fat lot of good it does me when I can’t make the payments.

Educators, like all public employees, are an integral part of the fabric of Ohio’s communities. Senate Bill 5 weakens Ohio. Rather than creating jobs, this legislation will hurt local communities, reversing Ohio’s positive economic outlook.

This one is repeated proudly by government unions from sea to bankrupt sea, and it’s my absolute favorite. Where do public employee salaries come from? If Ohio raises taxes to prevent pay cuts and gird unsustainable defined-benefit pensions, every dollar will come from a company or individual who would’ve spent or invested it without the unions skimming off the top. Dollars do not become more valuable simply because the government has moved them around.

The OEA must realize they won’t get enough mileage out of “but we’re really not paid that much!” in the current climate, so they mix in some Economics for Socialists to add a veneer of fiscal responsibility. With a little luck, Ohio’s Senate GOP will vote like grownups, recognizing the current temper tantrum as all bark – and SB 5 will remove the unions’ teeth.

Let’s close with this cheerful rally recap from Communist Party USA (emphasis mine):

[...] the unions answered by printing up and wearing red t-shirts reading “No on SB 5″ and “Kill the Bill” at the third hearing, and shouting “Red means No” as rightwing Tea Party representatives testified on the need to curtail “big government.”

I’d probably avoid red altogether if I were a Communist, but hey, I’m a buzzkill.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Marcy Kaptur joins the train cult

Good grief, what is with these Democrats and trains?  Now Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur thinks taxpayers should build a new choo-choo train in Ohio.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur still wants a high-speed train along the Lake Erie shore, connecting cities like Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo and Detroit.

And she's convinced the Obama administration will help make it happen -- if it can.

A few days ago, Kaptur and other members of northern Ohio's Congressional delegation met with Ray LaHood -- President Obama's cabinet secretary of transportation -- to talk about trains.

Hood is "very enthusiastic" about high-speed rail, Kaptur said.
Sigh.  Let me repeat what I said months ago about Ted Strickland's 39-mph magic railroad to prosperity. Not enough people are going to ride it.

Thankfully, Gov. Kasich killed the 3C boondoggle because it would have cost Ohio millions in a time where we need to cut spending.  Other governors in Wisconsin and Florida also turned down the "free" federal money, knowing that their states would end up holding the bag of cost overruns and annual subsidies.  That project didn't make financial sense for Ohio, and either would this one.

Driving will always be cheaper.  The Buckeye Institute found that even if you are driving a gas guzzling Ford F-150, gas would have to cost over $5.00/gallon for the cost of driving to be more than the 3C train.  For the average car, it would have to be more like $10/gallon.  And that's assuming only one person in the car.  If you are traveling with someone else, they obviously also need a ticket, thus doubling the cost.  Not so in your car.  The extra passenger, or two or three, ride free.  Therefore, ridership will be low.

History shows that passenger rail service in America will always require subsidies to keep them afloat.  In 1970 when Amtrak was created, the thought was that it would eventually become self-sufficient and no longer require tax payer dollars.  We all know how that turned out.  Amtrak consumes billions of our tax dollars every year.

Proponents don't even pretend that the systems would be self sufficient anymore.  Ted's proposal still had the Ohio taxpayer paying over $12 million to keep the line afloat.  It's a bad investment.

Of course, Marcy, who is my congresswoman, probably knows all of this, and doesn't care.  Notice where she wants the rail built this time?  At least Ted Strickland wanted to connect Ohio's largest 3 cities with the project.  Kaptur wants it running along the Lake Erie shore, which would put it almost entirely in her district.  In other words, its a great big steaming pile of pork.

We need to stop these ridiculous Euro-liberal feel-good projects before they put both our federal AND our state budgets in more jeopardy.

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Yes, Ted Strickland, you are a sore loser

Having done nothing during his 4-year team to significantly reduce state spending to a sustainable level, Ted Strickland on Friday had this to say about the man who is picking up the pieces of the budget disaster Ted left him:
“We had an election and the people chose Mr. Kasich, but they did not give him a mandate to do what he is doing,” Mr. Strickland said. “He got less than 50% of the vote – he got more votes than I did, and I acknowledge that, and I’m not trying to be a sore loser here – but most of the people in this state did not vote to embrace his radical agenda.”

“They did not vote for him to dismantle organized labor, they did not vote for him to become a tyrant and treat people they way I believe he’s treating them.”
Ted Strickland refused to make the hard decisions. He chose instead to take the easy way out, and patched up the state budget with dozens of one-time fixes, including free money from his friends in Washington.

Now, John Kasich is willingly taking on the challenge that Strickland was too timid to face. Restructuring the budget to be sustainable even after you leave office is not radical. Part of the solution is addressing public employee union compensation. Governor Kasich is trying to implement policies that will result in more responsible use of our tax dollars.

That's called being a leader, Governor Strickland. Not a tyrant.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kasich signs first bill into law, launches JobsOhio

On Friday, Governor Kasich signed HB1 into law, his first legislative victory. This will begin the first phase of transforming our current, horribly ineffective Department of Development into a private entity. Unlike the slow government bureaucracy it has been for years, it will now move "at the speed of business".

The Senate added some tweaks to address Democrat concerns, but of course, the left still isn't satisfied. Regarding the idea of total transparency that they say we need, I wrote previously,
And while "transparency" usually SOUNDS like a good thing, TOTAL transparency in this case would be counter-productive. Critics are saying that every dollar spent, and every meeting that occurs, should be easily accessible for all to see. But look at it from the other side. You are a business owner looking to move your business, or open a new plant. The team from Ohio is courting you, and you are seriously considering Ohio as an option. Then that becomes common knowledge before ANY deal is struck. Are you going to appreciate that any negotiations you make with Ohio are made public before you make your decision? Of course not. Why would ANY business want to show their hand to their competition, to the market, to their labor force, before making a decision? They wouldn't, which is why the noise the left is making is not valid criticism, just the same old politics.
Well, that sentiment was echoed yesterday by new development director Mark Kvamme in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch.
Q: Ohio's public-records and public-meetings laws contain a number of exemptions. Wouldn't it have been less of a headache to just put JobsOhio into the current law and try to tweak it a little rather than try to create a whole new law?

A: It wouldn't have worked. People don't trust us to hold their information secure. It's not just their proprietary information. The code is very specific what you can maintain as private and confidential.

For someone who is going to leave (the state) - if you're thinking about getting a divorce, are you going to tell your spouse you're seeing a lawyer? No. The problem here is, if you're thinking about leaving the state, but you're not sure, the last thing you want is for all your employees to know about it.

The way our laws work, the minute a company calls or e-mails us, that is public record. So, many times, we don't get called. The last thing we need is another NCR that leaves in the middle of the night, practically.

I've seen multiple stories about a company looking to move here from Wisconsin, and they filled out the paperwork, so it's all public. Who is the first call he gets? It's from the governor of Wisconsin.

Our competitors know what's going on. It's not you guys (the media) I'm worried about. It's the competition. Everything we do will be 100percent accountable and 100percent out there in the annual report.

Besides, if JobsOhio is so bad, why did 8 of the 10 Ohio Senate Democrats vote for it? Two House Democrats, black Cleveland-area Reps. John Barnes and Bill Patmon, also voted for the bill. According to Barnes, job creation is, or should be, nonpartisan.

As I stated before, those folks who are still crying foul over JobsOhio are the same folks who, believe it or not, agree that Ted Strickland left Ohio "with a better foundation than when he took office." Their opposition is all about stopping Kasich's agenda at every turn with the goal of keeping him from being successful. They'd rather put politics ahead of finding new ways to fix Ohio. Kudos to those who approved JobsOhio because they put Ohio ahead of their partisan politics.

Bytor on Twitter

This IS Payback

To Republicans wary about Senate Bill 5 and hesitant to offend unions crying over "payback" for years of campaign spending, let me offer the following: Senate Bill 5 is payback.

SB 5 pays back the Ohioans who voted for a more fiscally-responsible Senate. It's payback to the hypocrites at the AFSCME and OEA who pay themselves millions of dollars every year to fight Ohio's local governments, school districts, and state agencies. It's payback for parents, teachers, and taxpayers whose voices are muted by the bullhorns of national organizations dedicated to failed Progressive policies.

GOP Senators, please review Matt Mayer's testimony from the Feb. 15th SB 5 hearing and consider my humble suggestions:

  1. Remove any impact on police, highway patrolmen, and firefighters
  2. Revoke collective bargaining rights from all other state and local government employees

These changes would leave room to debate pay, insurance, and pension policies, undermining union rhetoric by creating a distinction between unionization and other rights. The 1983 law allowing government employees to unionize was a mistake, and only by removing the largest unions from the equation can Ohio hope to find a fair, sustainable middle ground. As I said last fall:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.

Wait, that was another detestable small-government conservative - Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Academics hot for unionization should be challenged to list the protections a union offers which couldn't be extended through legislative means. Leftists quick to foist higher taxes on "the rich" should be asked to explain why union bosses - whose businesses chiefly produce lobbying, higher labor costs, and their own salaries - deserve taxpayer support. Government employees should explain why their benefits should remain insulated amid $8 billion in deficits and an unemployment rate above 9%.

If they're demanding even more of our tax dollars, shouldn't government unions be able to justify why they exist in the first place?

Cross-posted at that hero.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ohio Rep. Bob Hagan (D) calls a black Ohioan "buckwheat" on Facebook?

Hat tip to The Madison Project
"Earlier this morning [Saturday] I engaged in a face book discussion with State Rep Bob Hagan [D, Youngstown]. Discussion is used loosely, as Hagan could not provide any facts or logic to defend his allegations.

"When I said he was only parroting the Ohio Democrat Party’s talking points he claimed to not know what his own Chairman, Chris Redfern, was saying. Chris might want to take a look at that.

"Anyway, a friend posted a thoughtful comment that Hagan didn’t like, and responded with a racist rant."
The friend appears to be a black man making his point in a completely civil manner. Hagan appears to call him "buckwheat", accuses him of making personal shots and tells him to "stick it where the sun don't shine."

I don't see the gentleman making any personal shots at Rep. Hagan at all. On the contrary, the comment that seems to have evoked the response was stated in a very civil tone.

While the earlier of the conversation is not visible, this reaction by Hagan is clearly inappropriate for a state representative. If Hagan were a Republican calling a black man "buckwheat", there would already be calls for his resignation.

Being the sponsor of Senate Bill 5, Senator Shannon Jones has been on the receiving end of some very nasty comments on her Facebook page. She did the smart thing and ignored the personal attacks, and disabled wall posts for the time being, since people were being so uncivil. Hagan could learn a thing or two from Jones. Instead, he lashed out with a racial slur.

As much as Chris Redfern has tried to portray John Kasich as a racist, I wonder if he'll have anything to say about Rep. Hagan's comments. We'll post an update if we can get more information.

UPDATE: The entire conversation was sent to me. This was NOT on Rep. Hagan's page. He started commenting on someone else's post. Judge for yourself.

Bytor on Twitter

Community Organizer in Chief fails at governing, returns to his roots.

President Obama has major issues to deal with at the national level.

We have a $1.5 trillion budget that he pretends does not exist. With his latest budget proposal, he is running away from our nation's budget problems, similar to how his friends in the Wisconsin Senate are literally running away from theirs.

The Arab world is erupting in protest against their rulers. They are shooting people in the streets in cold blood. But because of not having prepared for situations such as in Egypt, Obama's foreign policy is making a mockery of itself. They have been running from statement to statement, each contradicting the last, and generally making fools of themselves in front of the world.

His unconstitutional Obamacare law is under attack from all sides. Half the states are suing to overturn it. The House just stripped funding for its implementation from the budget. And a federal judge has declared the entire act null and void.

So how is he handling these national crises? By interfering in the states business of protecting their citizens and balancing their own budgets.

First we had him suing the state of Arizona over their attempt to combat illegal immigration in their state, in the absence of the federal government's willingness to do its job of securing our borders.

Now we have him meddling in the business of governors and legislators in Wisconsin, and here in Ohio, who are tackling very difficult budgets.

While we can certainly look to Jimmy Carter for a parallel of another completely incompetent president, I don't think there has ever been another president who purposely stirred up opposition and trouble for lawmakers at the state level. Obama never turned off his campaign machine. We saw him using his minions, sending them from place to place, during the Obamacare debate before its passage, and in support of his preferred candidates in the midterm elections.

But those were still national issues. Now, he is purposefully interfering in matters that do not concern the President of the United States.

Having no executive experience before assuming elected office of any type, Obama's only claim to fame was that he was a community organizer. A rabble-rouser. An ACORN trouble maker associated with an organization that intimidated and threatened bank executives into making bad loans by accusing them of racism and greed.

Many of us pleaded the rest of the country to look at Obama's track record of radicalism, and his lack of a track record of actually running anything. Of governing.

Now, two years later, his failure as a leader, his failure at actually governing, has exceeded even our initial expectations. His recent budget proposal shows that he isn't even trying anymore. How ironic, then, is it, that he has completely abdicated his responsibility to govern, and has returned to his roots to once again stir up trouble for those who are trying to responsibly govern with the people's money.

He now uses his office not to do the work of the President of the United States, but to tap its power to be the ultimate rabble-rouser. Having found himself a failure as commander-in-chief, he has returned to what he does best. He is our community organizer-in-chief.

Bytor on Twitter

DNC Complain-Train Rolling Towards Ohio

Unfazed by the failure of his stimulus bill, the judiciary’s decimation of his health care boondoggle, and the “shellacking” his party took in November, President Obama forges on with unaffordable proposals guaranteed to result in higher taxes. You know the old saying: spare the taxpayer, spoil the dead horse of Progressive policy.

Happily, the president still finds time to consider those of us in flyover country. After releasing a budget containing more of the obscene federal spending we’ve all grown to love, President Obama offered his centrist, sage insights into Wisconsin’s government union circus:

“Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions”

With news that Obama’s team at Organizing for America is playing a role in Wisconsin protests – siding with unions in opposition to state leaders elected not six months ago – should we expect the same in Ohio? Yup:

Now folded into the Democratic National Committee, Obama's campaign group Organizing For America is already actively engaged in Wisconsin and is beginning to ramp up organizing efforts in Ohio, though observers say the latter process is about a week behind that in Wisconsin.

Columbus Business First notes that President Obama will be in Cleveland for a small-business summit next Tuesday, February 22nd. Though the topic is innovation and that’s not exactly a union trademark, look for the president to chime in on Senate Bill 5. Speaker Boehner suggested the Organizer-in-Chief butt out, saying, “Rather than inciting protests against those who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the President and his advisers should lead.” Anybody expect Obama and his people to take that advice?

The president’s campaign coordinators and fans have an impressive ability to describe DNC-organized agitators as “grassroots,” illegally striking teachers as “walking their talk,” and union monopolies as “workers’ rights.” But then, President Obama is a man who knows which side his bread is buttered on. As union boss Andy Stern of the SEIU has said, “we spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama — $60.7 million, to be exact — and we’re proud of it.”

Cross-posted at that hero.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ohio Democrat Chairman Chris Redfern wants to be a pirate

Some folks have noticed that Chris Redfern changed his Twitter avatar to the "Jolly Roger" recently. Below is a screen cap.

"What does this mean?", people asked. "Surely he doesn't really want people to think he's a pirate, does he?"

It would make sense, though. We know he likes to use four letter words and hang out among rowdy characters, as pirates are wont to do. As a Democrat, he certainly likes to raid treasure from taxpayers. Maybe there's something to this.

Well, today, Redfern made it official. He's a pirate.

Chris Redfern - Out of the pirate closet

"When t' video o' me talkin' t' t' me union crew and usin' me salty pirate language was made public, me secret was out. I cannot hide it any longer. I'm a buccaneer, and I love t' plunder your tax doubloons... I mean booty!

"Come now, do not act ye so surprised. I even have a pirate name. Redfern! Kinda like Blackbeard.

"Don't hate me because I'm a pirate though. Pirates aren't so bad! That John Kasich, though! He be a real scurvy dog now, and ye can't trust him. Remember me words!"

At this point, Redfern's parrot started squalking loudly, "Kasich! Scurvy dog. Kasich! Tyrant!". Redfern quieted his pet by putting his hook to his beak and pleading "Not now Ted. We'll get him someday."

Happy Friday, everyone.

Bytor on Twitter

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Union hyperbole and hysteria over Senate Bill 5

Some of the crazy statements going around about collective bargaining reform in Ohio:

They want to take away our healthcare and retirement.

This one is laughable. Perhaps union members might end up paying the same percentage of their health insurance and retirements as we in the private sector do. Oh the horror! But completely take away your health insurance, or retirement? Please.

It's an outright assault on the middle class of Ohio and puts Ohio behind. It will hurt our children and communities!

The fact is, communities are being hurt by the laws that currently give power to the public unions. Poor teachers can't be fired. Good teachers that are younger get laid off when there have to be cuts, because they don't have seniority. School districts are forced to reduce the numbers of teachers, instead of giving everyone a small cut when they don't have the revenues. Reducing teachers and not judging them by merit...THAT'S what hurts our children.

Foisting compensation packages on local governments that can't afford them...THAT'S what hurts communities.

This is Republicans waging a class war against the middle class.

So the entire middle class is public-sector union members? And having them be back on an equal footing with their private-sector neighbors is "waging war"?

If I don't like my raises or my benefits, I can accept what my employer offers me, or I can choose to seek work elsewhere in the market. Why is that fair for me (and it is fair), but not for government workers?

Of course, asking these kinds of common sense questions must mean that I hate police officers and firefighters, right?

Bytor on Twitter

OEA Suddenly Cares About Students

While the AFSCME is stuck acting like all its members are police and firefighters, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) has the ultimate defense: Think of the children! Too often, this line is all it takes to deflect criticism, allowing the OEA to resume talking about the terrible things that would happen to teachers absent unionization.

See, for instance, the OEA press release opposing Senate Bill 5:

“The Ohio Education Association (OEA) is gravely concerned that the Ohio Senate is not making Ohio’s children a priority. In a tough economy and facing a major budget deficit, Ohio must focus on the essentials, and nothing is more essential than giving our children a quality education that prepares them for good jobs.”

It’s tough to track proficiency test scores due to gaps in Ohio Department of Education data, but graduation rates fluctuated from 80-87% during the past decade while spending persistently increased. Federal data hardly support the “more money means more learning” school of thought. But, “giving our children a quality education” is a better pitch than “continuing unreasonable pay to tenured union members.”

Who but a union would insist merit pay is the wrong way to encourage hard work and reward the best educators? That anyone capable of enduring several years as a teacher should have a job for life, with longevity raises on top? That charter schools and vouchers should never be tried? As with AFSCME Council 8 & Local 11, the OEA stands between Ohioans and the services our tax dollars fund.

Exciting OEA Facts, Fiscal 2009
  • $22,771,159 paid to union officers and staff — equal to $176.71 per member
  • 143 union employees paid more than $70,000
  • 117 union employees paid more than $100,000
  • 12 union employees paid more than $150,000
  • Executive Director Larry Wicks paid $208,469
  • Executive Director Dennis Reardon paid $202,997
  • $8,151,341 spent on benefits — less than 36% of the amount disbursed to union officers and staff
  • $25,000 given to Policy Matters Ohio, a far-left Cleveland think-tank (09/23/2008)
  • $10,000 sent to Colorado education union (10/17/2008)
  • $10,000 sent to Oregon education union (10/27/2008)

The OEA also found $1,614,690 in the couch cushions to donate to Democrat campaigns in the 2010 cycle, according to records from the Secretary of State.

It comes to this: should we buy the OEA’s sales pitch about outsized union influence being the route to effective education? Or should we resist demands to further increase taxes, disassemble the union machine, and allow teachers, parents, and school districts to make their own decisions? This is what an attorney might call a leading question.

If you need more convincing that public unions are no good for Ohio, see Matt Mayer’s 02/15/2011 testimony before the Insurance, Commerce, and Labor Committee of the Ohio Senate.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wait...weren't we told that Ted Strickland already did away with Ohio's burdensome regulations?

Remember when John Kasich announced the Common Sense Initiative, aimed at helping Ohio businesses by reducing red tape, and his partisan critics howled that Ted Strickland already did that?

Tell that to Custom Culinary of Avon and the Lorain Morning Journal.
Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor is making quick progress in the development of Gov. John Kasich’s CSI Ohio: Common Sense Initiative to cut red tape and burdensome regulations to make it easier for companies to do business and create jobs in Ohio.

That progress is certainly being felt in Lorain County.

The first case being addressed by CSI Ohio involves Custom Culinary of Avon. The company uses wines, beer and spirits in the production of soups, sauces and other food products for restaurant chains. Current state liquor regulations, however, prevent the company from buying the spirits at wholesale prices. Employees are required to uncork bottles of wine and open containers of beer to make products, resulting in higher costs to the company.

Taylor was made aware of the company’s problem from a letter she received last week from Avon Mayor James Smith. Yesterday she toured the plant to witness the cost in money and man hours caused by a questionable state regulation. This week, Sen. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), who represents Avon, is introducing legislation in the Ohio Senate to resolve the problem and allow Ohio food manufacturers to reduce their costs to be just as competitive as those in other states.
This administration promised to make Ohio more friendly to business again. Looks like they meant it.

Pro-gun bills reintroduced in Ohio Legislature

Last year, two pro-2nd amendment bills with broad support died before receiving a vote on the House floor. The bills had enough bipartisan support to pass, and were supported by then-Governor Strickland, who promised to sign them. However, anti-gun Democrat Speaker Armond Budish refused to let the bills advance to the floor.

Now that both the Ohio House and Senate are under GOP control, similar bills have already been introduced and are being heard in committee.

One of the bills, known as "restaurant carry", allows concealed handgun license (CHL) holders to carry their weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol, as long they do not not consume any alcohol. Currently, citizens who carry for their and their families' protection have to disarm if they go to a restaurant such as Pizza Hut or Applebees, even if they don't consume any alcohol. Almost every other state that issues CHLs allows carry in alcohol-serving establishments. The bill also corrects Ohio's confusing rules about how CHL holders must carry the weapons in a motor vehicle.

In the House, the bill is HB 45, sponsored by Danny Bubp (R-88) and Terry Johnson (R-89).

There is a similar bill, SB17, in the Senate, sponsored by Tim Schaffer (R-31).

Another issue is bringing Ohio in compliance with federal law to provide for the restoration of firearm rights to individuals. That is being address by SB61, Jason Wilson (D-30).

Governor Kasich has been widely criticized by gun rights groups for his support of the Clinton era "assualt weapons ban" in the mid-90s. However, Republican lawmakers have said that they have assurances that Kasich would sign the bills, should they reach his desk. Given the bipartisan support the bills still have, its really a question of when that happens, not if.

If you care about 2nd amendment Constitutional rights in Ohio, please contact your state representative and state Senator and ask them to support these bills.

The bills are supported by the NRA, Buckeye Firearms Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Columbus Dispatch: Its time for collective bargaining reform

Public sector employees enjoy far and away better compensation and benefits than we in the private sector. Unsustainable health and pension plans are one of the biggest challenges to state budgets across the country. The laws in Ohio are tilted in the unions favor. And you and I are the ones paying the bill. Its time for that to change, and the Columbus Dispatch agrees.
The fight brewing in the Ohio legislature over Senate Bill 5 could be monumental, but it is necessary. Ohio laws governing collective bargaining for public employees and teachers-union contracts deprive public employers — that is, taxpayers — of essential management rights. At the core, they hamper public employers’ ability to decide how much tax money to spend on personnel, which makes up the bulk of most government budgets.

That was objectionable enough in flush times, but as state and local leaders grapple with crushing budget deficits, it is unsustainable.

The rules have to change, to free state agencies and local governments of many of the employment mandates that have burdened budgets and stymied innovation and flexibility.

Go read the whole thing. The fact is, the public also knows that government compensation is out of control, and favors reducing that compensation to balance Ohio's budget.

So, how are the unions reacting? What is their well reasoned argument that they deserve to be better compensated THAN private sector workers AT private sector workers expense? Surely, they have a reasonable response.

Well, if you think government compensation should be reduced in order to balance the budget, you must be mentally retarded, according to one government employee union boss.

Well, that's quite a convincing argument. Let's see what clever argument our old friend Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman, comes up with to counter the Dispatch's well thought out opinion.

"Cbus Dispatch hates public union members that care for grandparents, protect us, fight fires"

Gee, that's brilliant, Chairman Redfern. The same old demonization the left brings out every time. Sounds a lot like "disagreement with Obama is rooted in racism."

These folks are so predictable sometimes.

Union Bosses Love Unions

Predictably, government unions are up in arms over Senate Bill 5. In a startling twist, union bosses are arguing that taxing Peter to generously compensate Paul is both fair and economically responsible!
"These lower wages and benefits are going to have an impact on our communities. In order to have a healthy community, you've got to have good jobs." - Bruce Wyngaard, Associate Executive Director, AFSCME Local 11
Public union boss Bruce Wyngaard has a good job - to the tune of $94,337 in 2009. Lots of other American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 11 staffers have good jobs, too: the union paid its employees over $5.8 million in 2009. Taken from 30,870 members, that's the equivalent of nearly $190 per member.

This guy was paid $94,337 in 2009, and wants your taxes increased.

AFSCME Council 8 President John Lyall will testify against Senate Bill 5 on Thursday. Lyall was paid $155,482 in 2009. Think he'll mention that while he's railing about spending cuts? Excluding payments to officers such as Lyall - and $148,265 for First VP Robert Mitchell - AFSCME Council 8 employees were paid more than $5.7 million in 2009. Annual disbursements to union employees equaled more than $155 per member.

Left: $155k in 2009. Right: $148k in 2009. Both: Want your taxes increased.

For context, the unions spent less than half as much on benefits - pensions, medical insurance, etc. - as on union pay in 2009. AFSCME Local 11 spent a little over $2.5 million on benefits; AFSCME Council 8 spent less than $2 million. Is it unreasonable to conclude the primary service provided by government unions is the enrichment of union bosses?

No wonder "leaders" like Bruce Wyngaard and John Lyall insist that without unions, government employees would endure random firings, no benefits, and a steady diet of discount cheese! Anything to keep pressure on the enemy ("the taxpayer") and off the characters earning six figures on member dues.

Leftists have proven time and again that getting rich on the backs of others doesn't preclude you from preaching economic redistribution and decrying personal freedom. AFSCME officials will complain till their complainers are sore about Republican attacks on government employees. Fact is, public union reps are chiefly concerned about public union reps.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

John Kasich is on a mission to make Ohio business-friendly again.

We've all heard the numbers. And they're ugly. Ohio is in decline.

  • We've lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the last few years.

  • Unemployment still near double digits.

  • Ranked 46th out of 50 for our business tax climate by the Tax Foundation.

  • Ranked 44th out of 50 best states for business by CEO magazine. (From 20th to 44th in 5 years, thanks Ted!)

  • Ranked 38th for business, 46th for economic climate and 47th for labor force by Forbes.

  • Ranked 38th by CNBC for business friendlyness and LAST in the midwest.

  • Ranked 45th in's employment rankings.

  • Dead last by US News & World Report of all states for best place to build a nest egg.

Ugh. Depressing huh? Well, the good news is, the voters decided enough was enough and elected a new governor. And unlike the timid leadership we've gotten used to, John Kasich is rolling up his sleeves, bringing new and exciting ideas and getting to work fixing this great state we all love.

You've probably heard about JobsOhio, the plan to reform the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD). It's commonly known among our government officials that the ODOD is one of the most inefficient and poorly performing parts of Ohio government. And one only has to look at all the companies that have left for other states to see that it is not working. If we don't turn this around, and not only stop the bleeding, but actually start to attract global businesses to Ohio, those ugly numbers above are not going to improve.

JobsOhio would create a non-profit, private corporation to perform the development functions for the state. It would be staffed by businessmen and CEOs, people who actually know the business world, and can react quickly to opportunities and changes, unlike the sluggish bureaucracy we have now. Its staff would be rewarded for success, and penalized for failure. Kinda like the real business world most of us work in.

The left and the democrats in the statehouse are making a lot of noise about "transparancy", but in fact, this is mostly politics. They want John Kasich to fail, and they will do anything to slow down his agenda. The bill that the Ohio House approved isn't even final. It starts a 6 month study period, that will take input from all sides. And in the end, the way the current ODOD does business will likely be no more transparent than what is planned for Jobs Ohio. On the contrary, JobsOhio would be held more accountable for performance than the current ODOD.

And while "transparency" usually SOUNDS like a good thing, TOTAL transparency in this case would be counter-productive. Critics are saying that every dollar spent, and every meeting that occurs, should be easily accessible for all to see. But look at it from the other side. You are a business owner looking to move your business, or open a new plant. The team from Ohio is courting you, and you are seriously considering Ohio as an option. Then that becomes common knowledge before ANY deal is struck. Are you going to appreciate that any negotiations you make with Ohio are made public before you make your decision? Of course not. Why would ANY business want to show their hand to their competition, to the market, to their labor force, before making a decision? They wouldn't, which is why the noise the left is making is not valid criticism, just the same old politics.

Ohio's business community is getting on board. The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce has whole-heartedly endorsed the bill.
“HB 1 allows Ohio to start moving at the speed of business,” said Phil Parker, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, in a statement. “As HB 1 is being considered in the legislature, businesses are making decisions on where to move and grow their operations. We need to be at the table for these decisions … we needed to be at the table yesterday.”

Full details of the bill can be read here. As far as the criticism you're hearing, you may notice that its coming from the same exact people that have been running this state for the last 4 years. Do you want to continue their status quo, or do you want to try a new way?