Friday, March 4, 2011

State representative says he'll vote for SB 5

Update (Saturday, March 5, 2011): State Rep. Al Landis says he will vote in favor of Senate Bill 5. Here's a link to a story in the T-R.


Some observations:

-- Facebook, with its 600 million members across the globe, continues to grow as a source of real news. On Facebook I've learned about power outages, storm damage, vehicle accidents and the fact that State Rep. Al Landis, R-Dover, will be spending the weekend reading Senate Bill 5 before he renders an opinion. Fact is, however, he doesn't have to waste time reading the bill in its entirety. The Legislative Service Commission routinely summarizes pending bills so lawmakers don't have to spend their waking hours reading legal mumbo-jumbo.

-- Gov. John Kasich says SB 5 is about creating jobs for Ohioans. I'm not really clear on the job-creation strategy here. How does doing away with collective bargaining for public employees actually create jobs? Someone explain it to me, please.

-- Likewise, SB 5 does nothing to fill the $8 billion budget hole. It does serve as warning to local governments that big cuts are coming in state taxpayer assistance, which means more people will lose their jobs in this state, which means the recession will continue well into the future. Think all this discussion about killing collective bargaining has had a chilling effect on teachers, or cops or firefighters who otherwise might have been thinking about buying a new car or house in the near future?

-- Whose fault is it for lopsided benefit packages for public employees? The unions? Or the public officials in power who made the deals? Or both? It's not collective bargaining that's necessarily the problem. It's the fact that for years governments and unions never believed in full disclosure to the public about what the heck was in those contracts.

-- This is a truism: Voters rant over the deal public employees get in their contracts, but always seem to side with those same employees when those employees are embroiled in labor disputes.

-- The couple of non-scientific polls that I've seen on the issue of SB 5 indicate that the public is coming down on the side of public employees. Is it because nearly every middle class taxpayer is related to or knows someone who is a teacher, cop or firefighter and has some degree of compassion for those people?

-- Some politicians continually harp that Ohio needs to be more business-friendly to attract jobs. If that's the case, why does Honda continue to invest in our state and its work force. This is from a 2004 report from Honda on its impact on Ohio:

Honda Motor Company came to the United States – and Ohio – in 1977 with its announcement of plans to construct a motorcycle assembly plant near Marysville. It began producing motorcycles in 1979 with 64 associates.

As this study details, today Honda’s investment in Ohio approaches $6.1 billion and its operations employ more than 16,000 Ohioans. The scope of its operations includes full-scale motor vehicle and drive train manufacturing and production engineering, a significant R&D center, and hub operations that lead and support such essential functions as North American procurement, logistics and quality.

I asked a friend of mine who is an executive for Honda if the company had any regrets about locating its major manufacturing in Ohio. None, he said.

-- Is one of the reasons for the decline in traditional Ohio job opportunities, i.e. manufacturing, a result of Americans' penchant for cheap foreign goods? Probably, but it doesn't explain all of it. Hoover non-commercial vacuum cleaners used to be made in Canton. Now they're made in China and Mexico. ABC News found a typical American family and looked for USA-made goods in its home. It found few. Even American flags came from China. Check out the report here.

-- Another reason for the lack of Ohio job opportunities is probably the fact that Ohio lags behind other states in the number of students it is graduating from college. A little more than 21 percent of Ohioans hold a bachelor's degree or higher. Compare that to Colorado's number -- almost 33 percent. Last time I checked employers want an intelligent work force because we're not assembling simple Hoover vacuum cleaners anymore. (Apologies to my friend and former Hoover engineer Matt Plotts.) My goodness, there are a host of reasons why business locates where it does. No. 1 reason, of course, is the quality of life an area affords the company's executives.

-- According to the Ohio Department of Taxation, in fiscal year 2009 the Commercial Activity Tax (business no longer pays a corporate income tax in Ohio) generated about $1.2 billion for the general fund while cigarette and tobacco products generated about $950 million. How about that -- smokers pay almost as much as business. Bigger problem than state taxes? Local taxes. Why is American Greetings thinking of relocating?

-- Illinois just raised its personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent and its corporate income tax from 4.8 percent to 7 percent to deal with its budget hole. Ohio's personal income tax ranges from less than 1 percent (for the lowest wage earners) to almost 6 percent (for the highest wage earners). From former Ohio Tax Commissioner Joanne Limbach: "When you compare Ohio to other states as far as state and local tax burdens by taxes per capita Ohio is 24th with $3,773 and Illinois is 16th with $4,081. Comparison as a percentage of income: Ohio is 18th with 11.8 percent; Illinois is 28th with 11.2 percent."

-- The fact that SB 5 allows public employees to collectively bargain for wages but does not allow them to strike is nothing more than legislative window dressing. Public employees will have no leverage in the debate especially since the "decider" will be the legislative authority, i.e. city councils, school boards, etc. Heads, you lose; tails, you lose. Good one, GOP. No one will figure that out.

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