Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ohio 'Jobs Budget': Adding Insult to Injury for Labor Unions?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ohio 'Jobs Budget': Adding Insult to Injury for Labor Unions?

Article excerpt

Ohio is already considering a Wisconsin-like bill to take on labor unions. Now Gov. John Kasich is proposing a budget that could significantly cut union ranks.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich's "Jobs Budget" for fiscal year 2012 includes no tax increases and makes significant cuts to local governments, school districts, and health-care providers to shore up a $8 billion deficit.

The budget has caught national attention because it follows the Ohio Legislature's effort to rein in unions through a bill similar to the one passed in Wisconsin. The bill has passed the Senate, and Governor Kasich says he will sign it if it passes the House as expected. Critics say Kasich's budget would be a further blow to labor and is a stealth way for the government to erode union membership.

But labor is hardly the only target in Kasich's budget. It cuts state funding to local government from $665 million in 2011 to $339 million in 2013. State money to primary and secondary schools would be trimmed by 12.1 percent in 2012 and 7.6 percent the following year. Higher education funding would be cut 13.1 percent each year. And it would lower Medicaid funding by $1.4 billion by reducing payments to nursing homes and hospitals.

Kasich says statewide cuts are needed to make the state "much more efficient."

"We're going to take a look at how much government we have in this state," he added.

Union supporters say the budget will lessen their ranks. Pete Van Runkle, executive director of the Ohio Health Care Association, told the Columbus Dispatch Wednesday that the budget constraints will lead to the loss of 6,000 nursing home jobs.

"You can't pull out that much without losing jobs - 70 percent of our costs are labor - and it's kind of ironic that the governor is saying this is a jobs budget," Mr. Van Runkle said. The budget proposals also establish new measures for the hiring and firing public school teachers, such as no longer allowing seniority to determine which teachers are laid off. …

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