Having read today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial endorsing Issue 2, I can’t help but see how the conclusion doesn’t match the premises made. If Issue 2 passes, Governor Kasich and this General Assembly will not, in a moment of kindness after this campaign, return to Senate 5 on their own initiative to remove some of its provisions.
If, as the Plain Dealer suggests it wants, you want a less extreme collective bargaining reform bill than SB 5, then you have only one choice: vote NO on Issue 2. If Issue 2 passes, John Kasich will see it as total vindication of SB 5. He will be emboldened. That’s the opposite result you want, if you truly want Kasich to come together with the labor unions to work on a fair bill. Kasich and the legislative leadership have already said that they will go back to the legislative drawing board, but only if Issue 2 is defeated this fall. There is no reason to believe that this Republican majority, which is now further entrenched in power thanks to their gerrymandered legislative map, will rethink Issue 2 unless the voters force them to by rejecting Issue 2.
If you want them to go back to the drawing board, then you have to give Kasich and the all-GOP government a reason to go the drawing board, and that only comes if Issue 2 is defeated. With a political majority election in their corner, organized labor will have leverage with the General Assembly unlike before when the Republicans concluded they could pass whatever they wanted while ignoring organized labor altogether.
A referendum is intended to serve as a constitutional check on the legislature by giving voters the opportunity to reject flawed and extreme legislative acts where a partisan majority abuses its control of the legislative process. A “yes” vote on the referendum has always meant that the voter does not believe that the legislative overreached. Today, the Plain Dealer admitted that all the reasons behind why the referendum exists applies to Issue 2, but they still urged people to vote as if the legislature had not overreached.
It does not compute. Nor does the Plain Dealer’s rhetorical overused, but rarely supported assertion that public employee benefits have suddenly become budget-busting and unsustainable. For much of the past twenty years, the Republicans have controlled this State. I seriously doubt they’ve been overly generous in the collective bargaining agreements. Ted Strickland had problems getting public employee union members to vote for him in 2010 because they resented the concessions they made to balance the State’s budget during the recession. I’d dare say that if you looked at the tax cuts and corporate giveaways that Ohio has given, you’re going to find a stronger correlation to support a claim of “unsustainable” programs than what kind of health plans we’re giving our first responders.
Either the Plain Dealer was being totally insincere with their motives or they issued the most politically naive editorial in the history of Ohio politics since… well, the Plain Dealer endorsed Kasich.