Yesterday, the Ohio state senate approved SB5 — its union-busting bill that strips public employees of their right to collectively bargain — by one vote, 17-16. Six Republicans joined all the chamber’s Democrats in voting against the legislation. Earlier in the day, Ohio’s senate Republicans had to pull some procedural shenanigans just to get the bill out of committee, removing an anti-SB5 Republican from the relevant committee and replacing him just hours before the vote.
As we’ve noted before, SB5 would essentially remove collective bargaining rights from Ohio’s teachers, and allow districts to unilaterally terminate teacher contracts. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has said that if the state legislature doesn’t pass the bill, he will insert its provisions into his budget proposal.
But the entire effort to enact SB5 is based on the faulty premise that public employees somehow caused Ohio’s budget deficit (which was actually caused, as in other states, by the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent Great Recession). And as a new report from Innovation Ohio shows, Ohio’s teachers have already agreed to a significant pay cut:
Far from being uncooperative or unyielding, Ohio teachers have made one of the largest financial sacrifices in the country, resulting in an average pay cut of 4% in 2008-09, the worst year of the recession.
In fact, Ohio’s teachers have sacrificed more than almost any group of educators in the nation:
Only Utah and Michigan’s teachers have seen larger pay cuts between 2008 and 2009. In terms of individual grades, Ohio’s kindergarten teachers saw a cut of 6.1% – the fourth-largest cut in the country. Its elementary school teachers saw a cut of 2.4% – again the fourth-largest in the nation. Its middle school teachers saw a cut of 5.8% –the nation’s second-highest cut behind Michigan. And its high school teachers saw a cut of 1.1%, which was the eighth-biggest in America.
Ohio was one of only six states whose teachers saw salary cuts to all four categories of teachers (kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools) between 2008 and 2009. Equally notable is that these results occurred under Ohio’s current collective bargaining law.
Overall, as the Economic Policy Institute has found, Ohio’s public employees are paid six percent less than their private sector counterparts. Innovation Ohio also cast doubt on some rosy projections Kasich has regarding how much SB5 might save the state, as current data shows that “the more states erode teachers’ rights to collectively bargain, the more it likely will lead, on average, to higher salary increases that are more volatile, producing much less cost certainty for districts and taxpayers than the state’s current system.”
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) did much the same thing in his state, plowing ahead with his union-busting effort even after the state’s workers agreed to meet his pay cut demands. If Kasich were actually serious about tackling his state’s deficit, he wouldn’t be proposing to double it with a slew of tax cuts, and he could look at ending several provisions in his state’s tax code that solely benefit the rich and special interests.