GUEST COLUMN: Special elections a ploy for passing unpopular initiatives
Editor’s note:?Area resident Jack Loesch, a longtime teacher at the University of Akron, has been a regular letter to the editor writer for
several years. His letter have always been well-developed and thought provoking, prompting
responses from our readers and now an invitation to provide his views in an occasional column format beginning today.
To begin, Election Day is set by law as the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Not in May! It is deceitful to arrange special elections in an attempt to pass initiatives by virtue of low voter turnout and the fact that the minority that support the initiative may win the day as the majority is too busy and distracted to pay attention to an election when there isn’t supposed to be one.
If the decision makers who planned these ballot issues were concerned with their integrity, they would only put these important issues up to vote in November, when the voter is expecting a trip to the polls. Isn’t the objective to get a true count of the will of the people or is it to pass the issue by any means necessary? Any issue put to a vote outside of the November election cycle should fail just on principle.
Do you remember back in the fall of 2011? Our radios and TVs were inundated with a smear campaign against SB5, the law that gave local jurisdictions and school districts more flexibility in negotiating with their union employees. The objective of this law was to enable these government entities to reign in their out of control labor expenses, as much as 80 percent of their budgets in most school districts. These local governments and schools were awash with red ink and the only way to turn that around was to bring these public union employees’ compensation packages back in line with what comparable workers make in the private sector.
The median personal income for all Ohioans is $31,284, but public employees of the state of Ohio have a median pay of $41,350, approximately 33 percent higher (according to data provided by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services).
Wisconsin passed a measure similar to SB5, Act 10, and while I will admit to a certain extent this is an apples and oranges comparison, there are more similarities than differences. In Wisconsin, the law has withstood multiple attacks and has been able to do its magic. Let us review a few headlines:
School administrators in Marshfield are adamant the tools included in Act 10 have had a profound effect on their ability to control costs.
Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial public-sector collective bargaining reform law will save public schools more than $100 million a year, according to a new report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Two years after state legislation rolled back collective bargaining for public employees and reshaped the state’s education landscape; several Milwaukee-area superintendents on Tuesday praised the overall effects. “We think it’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving for a while,” said Deborah Kerr, superintendent of the Brown Deer School District.
The 84-page financial assessment compiled by the Public Policy Forum says Milwaukee Public Schools’ short-term financial prospects have substantially improved in the aftermath of Wisconsin Act 10.
Would SB5 have helped every municipality, township and school in Ohio? Well it didn’t in Wisconsin but it helped the vast majority and it certainly didn’t hurt any of them.
In Ohio, the public employee unions didn’t allow the Ohio taxpayer to see how well SB5 would have worked. They killed it with a plethora of lies and misrepresentations. Now, many of the jurisdictions including school districts that it would have helped financially have no other resort than to go to the taxpayer for more money. If after a few years, SB5 had proven to be bad legislation, that is when the effort to rescind it should have taken place. In reality it wasn’t about any of the issues the advertisements claimed. It was all about the unions maintaining their power.
While the blame for the failure of SB5 to withstand the union attacks does not fall entirely on the shoulders of the officials that must now figure out alternative ways to balance their budgets (think tax increases), the officials did little to counter the union onslaught and educate the electorate as to the benefits of allowing SB5 to stand. They were mute as to the financial realities of overturning SB5. Thus, I have little sympathy for the budgetary problems they now face. Had they been vocal, out in the public, telling the taxpayer that SB5 would be good for their communities, I would be their biggest supporter. They did none of that, thus I am not.
If a school district or local government is in need of more money to operate, let them take it from the wages, benefits, or even better the dues of the union thugs who spent millions lying about SB5 to fool the voters into overturning the law. Don’t steal it from the pockets of the taxpayer. The unions made this bed, let them lie in it. After all, they’ve proven very proficient at lying.
From Jack Loesch: “I’ve lived locally most of my life, now in the suburbs of North Georgetown. For the past twenty years-plus I have been teaching computer science, economics and statistics at the University of Akron. My main area of interest and research is the evolution and demise of the free market system in America. I am a Constitutional Originalist, meaning I believe the Constitution should be interpreted in the spirit in which it was written. I have maintained a web site (www.TorchNFork.info) for several years on which I post my musings, research compilations, and other sundry tidbits of information that cross my path. Most were initially used to organize my thoughts, found their way to the site, and have remained there to pass into irrelevance. I can be contacted at TorchNFork@frontier.com.