Pro-SB5 group, Building a Better Ohio. has been lining up business groups in support of Issue 2. The measure, designed to limit the collective bargaining rights of public workers in Ohio, has no direct impact on private sector employees. But, as the Dayton Daily News reports, the private sector is helping to fund the campaign because, as the President of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce was quoted in the article:
“Business supports lowering taxes, reducing the cost of government and making it more efficient”
Sounds altruistic, right? Businesses have to make a profit, so they should know a thing or two about cutting costs, being efficient, and by all means, never wasting taxpayer money.
There’s also a question of fairness. The article goes on to explain that proponents [of SB5]
“say it puts public workers on more equal footing with the taxpayers who pay their salaries.”
Well, gosh, that sounds completely reasonable.
Five companies were named in the DDN story as having contributed to the Building a Better Ohio campaign. Who are these altruistic corporate souls who want to look out for the taxpayers paying the bloated salaries of government workers?
Well, interestingly, two of the five companies happen to have been recipients of quite a few taxpayer dollars themselves. Both Owens Corning and Eaton Corporation have received Ohio Department of Development grants in recent years. These aren’t tax credits or loans, but straight up payments of cash, never to be repaid, coming straight out of the General Revenue Fund. The same General Revenue Fund that we have been told is so bereft of funding, that we needed to pass SB5 in the first place
Somehow, despite their altruistic concern for the taxpayers of Ohio, the leaders of Owens and Eaton were more than happy to increase the cost of government by draining $362,000 and $4.5 million, respectively, from the General Revenue Fund, made up of income and sales tax collections from hardworking taxpayers like you and me. Eaton also accepted $1.25 million in gas tax proceeds to build a road to its new facility.
But it gets better. Eaton additionally sought and accepted incentives worth $90 million from state and local government to construct a new $170 million corporate headquarters in Cuyahoga County. Fun fact: Eaton Corporation has made $12 billion in revenue and $991 million in profits in the first nine months of 2011. In other words, a company that makes over a billion dollars a year in profit, shifted half the cost of its new office tower onto the backs of the taxpayers. Clearly, this is who we should be listening to when we’re looking for ways to make government more efficient and cost less. These guys are experts in reducing costs by finding someone else to pay them.
What about the claim that SB5 will put public workers on more equal footing with the taxpayers that pay their salaries?
The Chairman and CEO of the Eaton Corporation took home more than $28 million in cash and stock compensation in 2010. But, according to SB5 proponents, public sector workers need to be knocked down a peg or two so this guy can stop feeling inferior.
Issue 2 corporate supporters may claim that government needs to reduce public sector pay and benefits to equalize things with the private sector, but keep in mind they’re doing this while paying their CEO more than all but one of the New York Yankees and the same as 500 average Ohio teachers. These same companies say they’re supporting Issue 2 to save the taxpayers money, but seem to have no problem asking the taxpayer to fund their expansion projects so they don’t have to dip into their billions of dollars in profits.
There’s probably a whole series of posts that could be written about why businesses are actually supporting Issue 2 (they were strongarmed and threatened by the Governor, paying public workers less helps justify eventually paying private sector workers less, it’s a first step toward busting private sector unions, it helps republican candidates by eliminating a mobilizing force for democrats, etc). But given the roster of companies supporting Issue 2, the claim that they want to save taxpayers from needless government spending seems a bit far-fetched.