State Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, and state Rep. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville, spoke in detail Wednesday on the need to approve Issue 2 during a public meeting sponsored by the Auglaize County Patriots at the Wapakoneta Eagles.
The issue, which was an attachment to the recently passed budget bill in Ohio, limits some of the negotiating powers for public workers such as policeman, fireman, and teachers. Both legislators immediately came out in support of the issue and dispelled what they called myths about the issue.
The issue is being brought up for a vote after it was successfully petitioned to be repealed.
“Just remember Issue 2 is all about job creation,” Buchy said.
Buchy was one of few elected officials with the state legislature in 1983 when collective bargaining laws giving all public employees other than policeman and fireman the right to strike and bargain. He said the result has been a gradual recession of the state economy compared to other states.
“In a 28-year span, we have taxed and spent at a way higher rate than inflation,” Buchy said. “It is the reason we are losing people to Florida and other states. We need to reduce the cost of doing business in the state of Ohio.”
Issue 2 does not affect salaries or benefits for most government employees, as some have believed.
Buchy said that approving the bill was simple common sense for the average taxpayer.
“We have a governor (Kasich) who has taken initiative and has shown unbelievable backbone,” Buchy said.
Among the highlights of the bill, public workers will be asked to pay higher shares on some of their benefits. If the issue is approved, public workers will be required to pay at least 15 percent of their health care premium and 10 percent of their retirement contribution.
Among other things, it would also make performance-based increases in pay a bigger factor in negotiating wages.
“Many people against this issue have said that it is an attack,” Faber said. “The reality is, it isn’t an attack. It is a math problem. It is saying you are not going to get a raise for putting time sitting in a chair. You’ll get a raise based on performance. This is how the public sector works.”
Faber said that many public employees are paying less than 15 percent of their healthcare premium and many do not pay onto their retirement benefit at all. At the same time, the average private sector worker pays approximately 30 percent of his healthcare premium and many do not receive retirement benefits of any kind.
Giving an example, Faber said teacher salaries have increased 33 percent in the last 10 years. A recent study showed that the average public worker made 43 percent more than their private sector counterpart.
“I’m not being a mean person,” Faber said. “It is a simple math problem. The benefit structure is out of step with what the public can afford. I voted to raise my own health care so my wife doesn’t get laid off (she is an educator).”
Faber referred to raising his health care premium as a state senator so he paid more in an effort to help balance the state budget.
Faber said the myths that the bill will cause job losses among firefighters, teachers, and other public employees is simply false. He said that the new legislation would help retain workers by giving back more negotiating powers to government entities.
“The pension package alone in Columbus for one year was $41 million,” Faber said. “How many police officers could you hire with $41 million. The city of Toledo was recently forced to drop its road construction plan for the year because of picking up employee pensions.”