Gov. John Kasich’s administration decided last year that some exempt employees were not fairly compensated compared with some highly paid union employees. A provision was slipped into House Bill 64, the state budget, in June 2015 to add a step on top of the pay scale, one report noted.
Few will recall while some won’t want to recall when citizen Kasich, campaigning for governor in 2010, joked about how some of his management class hires would probably see bonus pay if he was elected governor.
All that joking wasn’t joking, it was Lehman Brothers banker Kasich signaling his cryptic intentions to milk Ohio taxpayers to fund sky high pay raises for the governor’s cherished non-union management class. Mr. Kasich’s joke became a promise kept. Tucked away from public view in Gov. Kasich’s last budget was language that gave public union workers a basic pay boost of just 2.5 percent pay raises compared to 9 percent and as much as 11.7 percent for K-class administration managers.
In August of 2010, the former Fox News talk show host announced his proposal to replace the Ohio Department of Development with JobsOhio, his Lehman Brothers spinoff nonprofit corporation packed with his corporate buddies including Mark Kvamme, John Kasich’s Silicon Valley venture capitalist friend, who would leave Gov. Kasich employ and move on to snag $50 million in investments from The Ohio State University’s then president, E. Gordon Gee, an original member of the JobsOhio board. John Kasich sought to flatter OSU’s president, constantly calling him Ohio’s best politician.
Make no mistake, JobsOhio was created by a friendly Republican legislature. Its employees, many of whom migrated from the old public agency to the new public records exempt group, enjoyed gargantuan pay hikes of as much as 36 percent. “We won’t have any pay restrictions there. If they deserve a bonus, we’ll give them a bonus. You all are familiar with bonuses. We will not require them to disclose their bonus,” John Kasich told reporters.
Rob Nichols, Gov. Kasich’s press secretary who banned this reporter from covering Mr. Kasich’s State of the State talk in 2014, lied to the public about his boss’s commitment to transparency. “It was absolutely a joke. He [Kasich] has been asked about it time and again, and he said the group will be transparent.”
His not so subtle forecast then is bearing fruit now for more than just JobsOhio workers. It was revealed recently that an 11th hour insertion of language into Gov. Kasich’s last budget bill, that had no committee hearings or other public discussion of any kind, parsed out measly raises to state union workers while rewarding thousands of Kasich administration managers across all agencies with outsized pay boosts.
John Kasich’s long-held view that public unions and their workers are not as good as corporations and private sector workers remains in tact, even though Mr. Kasich and some of his closest allies and political operatives have spent four decades drawing milk from the public tax-payer funded cow they say they want to slaughter.
Ohio’s lame duck governor has crowed for years about balancing the state budget, something every governor does because it’s the law. He’s likewise exaggerated his role in Washington as a budget balancer. Then House speaker Newt Gingrich, now on Donald Trump’s short list for vice president, made the abrasive, off-putting congressman from central Ohio chairman of the House Budget Committee, which in spite of Mr. Kasich’s claims, is just stop among others a budget bill must pass to make it the Oval Office.
In some cases, the change increased the pay range available for the highest-paid employees,” the Dispatch reported, noting that neither the changes or the Senate- and House-approved versions were not in Gov. Kasich’s original budget. “They were not discussed in a public hearing, nor were they mentioned by Budget Director Tim Keen in testimony to the conference committee on June 19, 2015,” Dispatch reporter Alan Johnson wrote.
Gov. Kasich clamored for transparency on the presidential campaign trial but has been anything but transparent back in Ohio, where his real track record has been ignored by national media that echo chambers its reporting to Beltway elites who have been wrong time and time again as history and the record shows. John Kasich signed another budget bill packed with special goodies the taxpaying public probably wouldn’t vote for but with nonetheless have to stomach for years to come.
A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services [DAS], the branch of government that handles employee contracts and benefits, said the pay step changes were necessary because, over time, “some union members were receiving higher pay than their management supervisors.”
It is “virtually impossible” to come up with the cost to taxpayers of the management pay increases, DAS said. So Kasich budget masters can’t find a cost for stuffing some wallets at the expense of others? That’s unbelievable on the surface and preposterous deep down.
State highway patrol workers were among those who got the short-end of the pay raise stick. The irony here is that Ohio state troopers traveled with Gov. Kasich for months on end to guard him, his family and entourage only to get stiffed for pay raises.
As we recall the fact that John Kasich stiffed cities and school districts when he submitted his first budget by withholding billions to balance the state budget, forcing those on the receiving end of his austerity to do more with less, his fiscal policy is built on public sector jobs being subordinate to private sector jobs. To level the playing field between them, he prefers to whittle down pubic sector compensation and benefits instead of calling on his CEO buddies to do better by their workers.
It’s no surprise, then, that Cleveland City Council launched legislation to hike the municipal tax to offset the millions the Kasich administration has shorted the city about to hold the Republican National Convention. “Jackson is calling for the tax hike, in part, to make up for $111 million in state cuts to local governments since 2011,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote.
And it’s not just big cities who have felt Kasich’s austerity whip. Even small cities, many of them very Republican, are smarting from the governor and the legislature’s cutbacks. Lebanon City Council is looking to cut in half it’s 1.0 percent credit given to local residents who pay income tax where they work, the Dayton Daily News reported.
As federal and state funds have dwindled, cities have turned to local residents for more income. In January, Waynesville eliminated a 1 percent income tax in favor of 0.5 percent taxes on wage-earning residents, regardless of where they work.
Cities like Cleveland and Dayton, with large work forces, favor income tax increases. Small so-called “bedroom communities” have shrunk their income tax credits to take advantage of earnings from residents who work outside city limits. In very conservative Warren County, bordering Hamilton County, Springboro, South Lebanon, Morrow and Maineville have also cut the credit to fill gaps left by Gov. Kasich’s withholding of local government funds.
Chris Mabe, President of The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, said that for decades and in the interest of fairness and doing what’s right, the state has awarded raises to managers at the same rate as rank-and-file employees. The disparate raise stuffed inside the budget bill courtesy of Camp Kasich and a GOP-led legislature violates that accepted tradition. Mr. Mabe, whose union represents 30,000 state employees said in a statement, “Excessive management raises for administrative cronies and political appointees, in particular, are a slap in the face to thousands of correction officers, highway workers, administrative personnel and other state employees who work hard and often struggle to make ends meet.”
One editorial letter writer summed up the Kasich administrations surreptitious pay raise in a colorful fashion. “A working person who votes Republican is like a chicken who votes for Colonel Sanders.”
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