A couple of days ago, we reported on the failed attempts by Issue 2 supporters to discredit a report on Ohio’s public employee compensation released in February of this year. They tried to claim the report was purchased by Issue 2 opponents at a convenient time and from a questionable policy institution and author. As you can read in our previous post, none of their allegations can be substantiated, and the EPI report by Jeffrey Keefe stands up to scrutiny.
Issue 2 supporters, especially the lead organization Building a Better Ohio, have chosen to ignore that data in favor of a different report that, not coincidentally, leans heavily in their favor. We have referred to this report simply as the “43%” report for the inflated (and incorrectly referenced) number that the report produced. They have dropped this number into their last two commercials, touting it as evidence (inaccurately) that Issue 2 is necessary.
Would the 43% report stand up to the same scrutiny that Issue 2 supporters were using to try to discredit the EPI report? Let’s compare the two.
“The report and results were purchased.”
EPI Report: Published on February 10, 2011, over a month prior to the creation of We Are Ohio and only nine days after the introduction of Senate Bill 5. The study replicated methodology used for research on New Jersey over 8 months earlier.
43% Report: Published for the Ohio Business Roundtable, a consortium of Ohio CEOs, on September 14, 2011, 8 1/2 months after SB5 was created. The report was released a full 3 1/2 months after pro-SB5 organization Building a Better Ohio was formed (May 31).
“Timing of the report is suspiciously convenient.”
EPI Report: As we reported before, the methodology used in the study was developed for New Jersey in 2010 and replicated for the Ohio study. The results were released at the outset of the Senate Bill 5 discussions, convenient for both sides.
43% Report: Released on September 14, 1 1/2 months after Senate Bill 5 had become the Issue 2 debate, right in the heart the campaign period.
“Published by a questionable author.”
EPI Report: From the report ”Jeffrey H. Keefe is associate professor of labor and employment relations at the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, where he is conducting research on occupational and employment restructuring in telecommunications, meat processing, and public employment. He teaches courses on collective bargaining, negotiations, financial analysis, benefits and social insurance, and strategic research.” In short, the focus of this report directly aligns with Keefe’s everyday work and instruction as instructor at Rutgers. He published multiple reports for EPI that explore the compensation of public and private sector workers prior to releasing the Ohio report. At the end of Keefe’s report, he included an appendix that fully explains his data sources and a complete list of references to allow researches to verify his methods and research.
43% Report: About lead author Jason Biggs: ”Prior to joining AEI Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts and led the agency’s participation in the Social Security Trustees working group. In 2005 he worked on Social Security reform at the National Economic Council and in 2001 was on the staff of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Andrew’s work at AEI focuses on Social Security reform, fiscal consolidation to address the country’s ballooning deficits, state and local government pensions, and comparisons of public and private sector compensation.” Biggs certainly seems to have decent credentials, too. He certainly appears to have more varied interests than Keefe and the number of AEI publications he produces reflect his full-time work as a private researcher. Biggs’ work at strengthening Social Security under President Bush is noteworthy, too, and he obviously deserves some credit for fixing that system. At the end of Biggs’ report, he did not include an appendix or list of references, so researchers are unable to verify his methodology and data sources.
“Published by a questionable policy institution.”
EPI Report: Published by “The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a non-profit, non-partisan think tank…believes every working person deserves a good job with fair pay, affordable health care, and retirement security. EPI conducts research and analysis on the economic status of working America, and proposes public policies that protect and improve the economic conditions of low- and middle-income workers and assesses policies with respect to how they affect those workers. EPI is a 501(c)(3) corporation and receives a majority of our funding in the form of foundation grants, while also receiving support from labor unions, individuals, corporations, and other organizations.” Let’s just say that OF COURSE they receive support from labor unions since they have similar values:
- Helping Working People;
- Truth and Accuracy Matter;
- Dignified, Remunerative Work;
- Strong, Effective Labor Movement;
- Government for the People
43% Report: Published by “The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a community of scholars and supporters committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity, and strengthening free enterprise…AEI is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare…AEI’s operations are financed by donations from corporations, foundations, and individuals and by investment earnings from an internal endowment. The Institute does not perform contract research and, with rare exceptions, does not accept government grants. Its research agenda is determined by its president in consultation with its trustees, scholars and fellows, and academic advisers; the substance and conclusions of its research and publications are determined by the individuals conducting the research.” We’re not surprised that the two institutes seem to have opposite perspectives with AEI using some conservative Tea Party buzzwords in their description, but that section we put in bold print gave us pause. If the Ohio Business Roundtable did not contract for this study, then why does the press release say “The following is a report prepared for the Ohio Business Roundtable” at the very beginning? That discrepancy alone is questionable at best.
ALL of this aside, Issue 2 supporters are overlooking the most obvious element of the timing of the “43%” report that should be questioned. Republican voters should be asking: ”Why isn’t there anything that backs up this information from PRIOR to February 1, when Senate Bill 5 was introduced?” In the month and a half since Governor Kasich and Issue 2 supporters “discovered” this report, NO ONE has provided supporting data from any past studies to back it up. Instead of pointing to pre-existing reports that are confirmed by the Biggs report, supporters keep hammering home this late-breaking report from September, well AFTER Kasich signed the bill into law.
Where is the data that supports Shannon Jones’ statements from February 18?
I believe that government needs to start living within its means and operating by the same standards of efficiency, accountability and performance as private sector companies. Anything less will lead to greater failure and deeper unemployment.
Public employees should be paid and retained based on performance like everyone else. The best way to do that is to repeal collective bargaining for all state employees and adopt a merit-based employment system.
I do not expect this bill to provide a magic bullet that will help fix Ohio’s immediate budget crisis, but I do believe it will make a significant difference in future budgets and in the overall performance of government.
These fundamental reforms are essential to our long-term prosperity. What has worked in the private sector for generations can work for public employers as well.
Believe? She believes? Why didn’t she refer to the report on hand, the newly published study by Keefe? Shouldn’t Republicans want to see a report to back up her claim that What has worked in the private sector for generations can work for public employers as well? If we are TRULY trying to fix Ohio, why wouldn’t Ohioans want to see the research basis for major decisions like this? Why did the legislature continue to pass Senate Bill 5 through to the Governor without actually having any knowledge of whether they were addressing a REAL financial issue?
And Issue 2 supporters should be asking Building a Better Ohio:
Why did it take a full 8 1/2 months for a report to be purchased?
Vote NO on Issue 2!