Gov. John Kasich

  • November 9, 2011

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Right-wing policymakers triumphed impressively last year taking control of many statehouses from coast to coast. Many of those lawmakers were ushered into office backed by Tea Party fervor, and lots of money from the likes of Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers, who head Koch Industries and espouse efforts to radically constrain government.

    A year after their sweeping victories, however, some of their most outrageous policies were shelved by large numbers of voters last night.

    The frontal assault on public sector workers in Ohio, as noted by the Plain Dealer, was squashed by voters, 61 percent to 39 percent. In a guest post for ACSblog, Ohio State University law school professor Dan Tokaji noted that SB 5, which gutted collective bargaining rights of public workers, was a “center of Governor Kasich’s first year in office.” Tokaji said the defeat of the anti-workers’ rights law was not only a major setback to the Republican governor, but also has ramifications outside the Buckeye state. If the law would have survived, Tokaji said it would have dealt a “crippling blow to organized labor, drastically curtailing its political influence.”

    Mississippi provided a mixed bag, defeating a radical anti-abortion measure, but supporting a stringent new voter registration law. As noted by The New York Times, perhaps one of the night’s “biggest surprises” was the state’s rejection of a proposed constitutional amendment that would grant legal rights to embryos, effectively outlawing abortion and other forms of birth control in the state. That policy was advocated by a Religious Right group called Personhood USA, which says it is pushing similar measures all over the country, and doing so, in part, “to glorify Jesus Christ in a way that creates a culture of life so that all innocent human lives are protected by love and by law.”

    Following defeat of the measure, Keith Ashley in a blog post for Personhood USA said the group understands the difficulty of “changing a culture,” and that it vows “to continue on this path towards affirming the basic dignity and human rights of all people ….”  

    Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center of Reproductive Rights, hailed the defeat of the Personhood Amendment, saying in a press statement, “Outlawing medical services commonly used and relied upon by Americans in their personal lives runs completely counter to the U.S. Constitution, not to mention some of our most deeply held American political traditions and values.”

  • November 8, 2011
    Guest Post

    By Dan Tokaji, the Robert M. Duncan/Jones Day Designated Professor in Law, Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law. Tokaji is also a member of the ACS Board.

    On Tuesday, Ohio voters rejected Issue 2, a measure that would have sharply limited the collective bargaining rights of public-sector employees. The outcome of this measure is significant for workers’ rights. But its greatest importance lies in its significance for the balance of political power, not just in Ohio but across the country.

    Issue 2 was a ballot referendum asking voters for a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote on SB 5, a statute passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor John Kasich.  At the start of his administration, Governor Kasich took a very aggressive posture, memorably warning people to “get on the bus, or we’re going to run you over.”

    SB 5 became the centerpiece of Governor Kasich’s first year in office.  The law was advertised as a way of cutting government expenses and creating a more business-friendly environment for private-sector employers.   It was supported by most Republicans and opposed by Democrats in the state legislature.

    Without getting too deeply into the details of this long and complex statute, suffice it to say that SB 5/Issue 2 would have significantly weakened public-sector labor unions – including those representing police officers, firefighters, teachers, and many other local and state employees.   Not surprisingly, this change engendered fierce opposition from organized labor. Opponents collected enough signatures to put the law to a vote of the people as the state constitution allows.  

    Unquestionably, the defeat of Issue 2 is a black eye for Governor Kasich. The consequences of Issue 2’s defeat, however, go well beyond Ohio’s borders. 

    To see why, it’s helpful to consider what would have happened if Issue 2 had succeeded.  The measure would have dealt a crippling blow to organized labor, drastically curtailing its political influence.  This is especially significant in our post -- Citizens United world, in which there are effectively no limits on corporate campaign expenditures.  In this world, the only counterbalancing force to corporate political influence – at least the only one with enough money to make a major impact – is organized labor.

  • July 5, 2011

    An Ohio law aimed at greatly curtailing the rights of public workers has sparked massive protests and what appears to be a successful drive to place it before voters this fall. Opposition has also formed against similar anti-collective bargaining laws in Michigan and Wisconsin.  

    More than a million Ohioans recently signed a petition to put  the law, Senate Bill 5, on the November ballot, in hopes of repealing it, The Plain Dealer recently reported. The signatures, the newspaper added, were “ceremoniously” delivered to the Secretary of State’s office in Columbus by more than 6,000 marchers. The newspaper said the more than 1 million signatures “are the most in more than a decade at least,” to be submitted to state officials.

    Melissa Fazekas, a spokeswoman for We Are Ohio, a group that launched the petition drive to repeal the anti-collective bargaining law, also lauded the large number of marchers involved in submitting the signatures, saying they “are proof that while our campaign may be out spent, we will never be out worked, or out volunteered or out supported by hard working Ohioans.”

    Like his counterparts in Wisconsin and Michigan, Gov. Kasich argued that Senate Bill 5, which The New York Times noted could cut public sector jobs in parts of the state where the private sector has long stopped producing opportunities, is necessary to help local officials overcome budget shortfalls.

    In a guest post for ACSblog, Ohio State University law school professor James J. Brudney, said the claims in both Ohio and Wisconsin that fiscal conditions are the reasons to limit collective bargaining have been “exposed as a smokescreen.”

    Brudney continued:

    Fiscal crises are occurring in states like Texas and Virginia that bar collective bargaining. And 2010 budget deficits are as high in the nine states that banned collective bargaining for most all public employees as in the fifteen states that allowed it for theirs. Tellingly, leading proponents of Senate Bill 5 asserted as their core justification for the bill not money but flexibility. The Senate bill author and Ohio’s governor talked constantly about the need for flexibility to manage Ohio’s public workforce. Yet Ohio’s experience since collective bargaining became lawful in 1983 makes it very hard to make a case for inflexibility.

  • April 1, 2011

    Wis. Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to hobble the rights of public workers have drawn large protests to the capitol and national media attention, but the Ohio governor has successfully pushed a measure through the state legislature that is “perhaps even tougher on unions,” The New York Times notes.

    Last month it was noted here that Gov. John Kasich and Republican state lawmakers were advocating a measure that if passed would greatly shrink public sector jobs and the rights of public workers. Talking Points Memo noted then that a measure wending its way through the Ohio legislature would go “even further than the one recently passed in Wisconsin ….” The Times then reported that the state lawmakers’ efforts could lead to an erosion of public sector jobs in parts of the state where the private sector has long stopped creating employment opportunities.

    The Times reports, “While both laws severely limit public employees’ ability to bargain collectively – they both prohibit any bargaining over health coverage and pensions – the Ohio law largely eliminates bargaining for the police and firefighters. Wisconsin’s law leaves those two groups’ bargaining rights untouched. Ohio’s law also gives city councils and school boards a free hand to unilaterally impose their side’s final contract offer when management and union fail to reach a settlement.”

    The newspaper quotes a state Republican lawmaker as saying that budget deficits require the state to take this type of action.

    William Leibensperger, vice president of the Ohio Education Association, said the Ohio law was “a politically motivated effort to weaken and destroy unions that the leaders of the Republican Party perceive as their biggest political opponents.”

    Ohio State University law school professor James Brudney described both laws as essentially eviscerating collective bargaining.

    Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder helped push a measure through the state legislature that also weakens the ability of public workers to bargain collectively. Recently, Snyder garnered attention for enacting a law that will cut employment benefits next year, in a state where unemployment currently hovers about 10 percent.   

    The AFL-CIO said last month that “Republican governors and legislators in state after state have taken aim at their own constituents with increasingly blatant attacks on education, public services, and working people’s voices.”

  • March 16, 2011
    Ohio lawmakers are on the verge of approving a measure that according to some will further erode the state's middle class.

    The New York Times focuses on Gallipolis, Ohio where, "Decades of industrial decline have eroded private jobs here, leaving a thin crust of low-paying service work that makes public-sector jobs look great in comparison." The article notes that earlier this month the state Senate passed the bill that "does away with seniority and leaves out any job protection for workers with longer service, putting public workers - most of whom are not eligible for Social Security - at risk of losing their retirement income."

    Talking Points Memo reported yesterday that Gov. John Kasich is suffering poor approval ratings partly due to his pushing a budget plan that includes a measure "to strip state employees of their collective bargaining rights. The bill goes even further than the one recently passed in Wisconsin, which promoted weeks of enormous protests and has sparked a recall petition for the state's republican senators." According to TPM, a University of Cincinnati poll shows Kasich's approval rating at 30 percent and his disapproval at 52 percent.

    As noted here yesterday, lawmakers in a number of states are pushing measures to cut benefits and rights of workers, highlighting a far-sweeping measure being pushed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.