Friday, March 25, 2011

Reflecting on Public Forums, by Jim Buchy

Recently, I held three public forums, one in each county of the district. I was pleased by the willingness of nearly 450 constituents to discuss the issue of Senate Bill 5 and other bills, both for and against. Throughout this process I have been open with my support for this measure and will continue to explain what has led me to this position. The bill is currently in the amendment phase in the House and the ideas of constituents in this district have been relayed to my colleagues working on the bill.

The first event was at the St. Clair Memorial Hall where I was joined by Senator Faber, the local Greenville Education Association and other kind volunteers that allowed the event to take place without problems. At that event constituents were most concerned about dispute resolution provisions and administrator accountability. At that event we heard from many good people and it set the stage for success at the two latter events. The Coldwater event was met with an increased amount of displeasure most of which was fueled by residents of neighboring districts. The Coldwater event was hosted at the Coldwater American Legion by the Mercer County Liberty Group. The audience was comprised of interested constituents in favor and opposition to SB 5. In Coldwater it was evident that the existing provisions of step schedules and collective bargaining are not working for schools in my district. The constant pressure of national and state labor unions to ask for more from our tax payers is not popular amongst local public employees. The public employees of my district just want to be treated fairly and I am carrying that message to Columbus. The right of employees to organize is important and they should bargain for wages, hours, terms and conditions. However, we need increased accountability for administrators. At the final event in Eaton I was met by protestors in the rain. I invited them inside for the event and many came in. This event was held in the Eaton High School gymnasium. The discussion was lively and many people in the crowd reiterated they were interested in hearing what was happening in Columbus. I am dedicated to communicating with constituents by face to face meetings, phone calls, letters, emails and through columns such as this. I will continue to make every effort to hear the concerns of those who came to the forums or could not make it. If you are concerned about the reasons SB 5 is needed in Ohio or you have suggestions to improve the bill I want to hear them.

Soon, there will be changes offered-up to SB 5 in the House and I look forward to examining those changes. Currently, SB 5 will allow for public employees to collectively bargain for wages, hours, terms and conditions. It will remove step pay increases for all public employees and replace those pay increases by a locally determined merit system, except for teachers who will be paid based on a locally determined performance system. Public employees will continue to have leave time and will be asked to pay a percentage of their healthcare costs. We have viewed the Governor’s budget proposal and it is evident the local entities and state government need tools to manage labor costs. We cannot and will not balance this budget on the backs of the middle class. This bill and others will ask administrators to make wise decisions and cut costs universally. I consider these changes an important part of putting Ohio back on her feet and I hope you will too.



    Ken Finton here. It has been years since we have talked. I agree with your efforts not to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class and asking that public employees contribute some more to their health care costs. However, I urge to to realize that we have more of a revenue crisis in this country than a spending crisis. Tax breaks to corporations are also in the plan, so look at these with a sharp pencil. Oil companies do not need tax breaks and subsidies. Also, the idea of privatizing the gold mine of revenue in the state liquor stores for a one time fee is about the most crooked and most stupid idea I have heard of in a long time. The governor has appointed himself as head of the new company that will take the place of the state liquor stores -- and this is not only a conflict of interests, but probably highly illegal as well. 200 million a year is raised in revenue from these stores and to trade steady income for a one time fee is absurd. Same with selling of turnpikes and such. That has been tried before and it does not work. Check out what happened in Australia when they did this!

    Take care and good luck with your new term.

  2. Today the Ohio legislature passed their union busting bill denying collective bargaining rights to public workers. Nine Republicans voted against this. I hope one was Jim Buchy, but there is no way t tell because Ohio does not let the voting records of the legislature to be posted online. So much for transparent government in Ohio. The bill that passed was passed on the back of the middle class. Ohio has a revenue problem like every other state and the Federal government. It is not taking in enough money. If a family finds itself with bills to high, it borrows money or someone else gets another job to bring in revenue. That is what the country and the state needs to do. Stop cutting essential services and eliminating jobs. Only a healthy and prosperous middle class creates a prosperous economy because they are the people who put their paychecks right back into their locality.


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