HB 5 Saves Millions

From the Columbus Dispatch-
Central Ohio's largest government entities would have spent about $74 million less on employees' health-care and pension benefits last year if Senate Bill 5 had been in effect.

Paying the cost instead of taxpayers would have been workers for central Ohio's seven county governments, their county seats and the region's seven largest school districts. In 2010, those 21 employers had about 37,400 workers.

The expense would have been borne by nonunion employees as well as those in organized labor. Anyone working for the state, cities or counties, and public school systems could be affected by the provisions of Senate Bill 5 that limit government spending on health-care plans and pension contributions.

Based on a Dispatch analysis, the impact of the bill would be significant for some public employers and insignificant for others. The city of Columbus, for example, would have saved $50 million last year. But Ohio State University, which has a budget and staff that dwarfs the city's, and Columbus State Community College both would have been untouched.

The Dispatch polled central Ohio's largest governments about two aspects of the bill that has been passed by the Senate and is now being considered by the House:

• The requirement that all government workers pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their health plans.

• A ban on government agencies paying any portion of the pension costs that are supposed to be employees' obligation. Employees are supposed to pay 10 percent of their salaries into Ohio's five public-employee pension plans, although proposals exist to increase some of those requirements.

The newspaper's analysis found that those two elements would have saved the 21 local governments a total of $74 million, about 1.1percent of their collective operating budgets that year. Employees would have paid instead.

The pension issue would affect most of the local governments studied, 20 of them. The health-care measure would affect 12.

A statewide study released last month estimated that Senate Bill 5 could collectively save all of Ohio's local governments more than $1.1billion. That study was a statistical projection of the health-care requirement (which at the time would have required workers to pay at least 20 percent) and two provisions not included in the Dispatch analysis. It did not evaluate the pension effect.

The newspaper's survey found that most of Columbus' annual savings - $41.2million - would come from ending the city's practice of paying much of the employees' share for pensions. City leaders have acknowledged since 2009 that they want to roll back the pension pickup and also have employees pay more for their health care.

Since 2010, city leaders have negotiated contract changes that they say will save $115 million through 2019, about $11.5 million per year.

The changes have taken effect gradually, in a way that doesn't undermine trust between the unions and the city, said Dan Williamson, spokesman for Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

Even if Senate Bill 5 took effect, the city might not see the pension savings because unions would seek higher pay to offset losing the benefit, said Jim Gilbert, president of the city's police union. The city agreed to pay employees' share of pensions instead of raising pay in past years, he said, so it's only fair that the city offer more pay if state law strips away officers' pension benefit.

By contrast, Ohio State doesn't pick up any portion of the pension, and university employees already pay 17 percent of their health-care costs on aggregate. Campus officials think they wouldn't have to make any changes in their benefit package to comply with the bill, spokesman Jim Lynch said.

Senate Bill 5 also would change collective bargaining in Ohio. Public-employee unions could bargain over salaries and little else. They would not be able to strike, and any contract disputes would be handled through a new fact-finding process instead of binding arbitration.

How the health-care and pension provisions of the bill would affect governments depends largely on how they now compensate employees. Take, for example, Columbus City Schools.

The health-care provision would shift $4.1 million in health-care costs from the district to employees, an average of about $550 annually per full-time-equivalent worker. In 2010, district employees paid about 10.4percent of their health-care costs, so Columbus City Schools would need to transfer more of the costs to workers.

The current version of Senate Bill 5 would force the changes when workers' contracts expire. Columbus schools, like other governments, have different arrangements with different employee groups, so the bill's effect would be phased in.

The change in the pension pickup would affect only two of Columbus schools' 7,480 employees - Superintendent Gene T. Harris and Treasurer Penny Rucker. Harris would have lost $19,168 in 2010 compensation; Rucker, $14,500. Harris would not speak to reporters about the bill.

Pension pickups are relatively common for municipalities and safety workers, such as police and fire employees. They're also common for top school officials but are rare among unionized school employees such as teachers, bus drivers and aides, said Greg Scott, a Columbus lawyer who negotiates teachers' contracts on behalf of school districts.

In South-Western schools, the district picks up the pension contributions for about 100 administrators, worth a total of about $1million. The perk is something that administrators have negotiated little by little for the past 15 years, mostly instead of larger pay raises, said Treasurer Hugh Garside.

What the district will do with any pension savings as a result of Senate Bill 5 hasn't been discussed, Garside said.

"That's a decision the district will have to make," he said, but returning some of the money to salaries "would be an option."

Dispatch reporters Charlie Boss, Bill Bush, Elizabeth Gibson, Josh Jarman, Mary Beth Lane, Randy Ludlow, Allison Manning, Encarnacion Pyle and Holly Zachariah contributed to this story

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Link please

Dear Servants of the people,
Before jobs were outsourced in mass quantities, we had a significant tax base which was more than adequate to run a stable government; to build and maintain a grand infrastructure and maintain a country that was second to none. Corporate greed and a government who lost touch with its people have allowed us to fall into the worst recession since the great depression. For some time, companies began systematically closing union shops, which were typically higher paying jobs, and moving them to the south where most states had no unions. As the government made it easier for companies to once again lower wages by changing their workforce, jobs were moved by the thousands to Mexico through a “Free Trade Act”, certainly not a fair trade act. Soon the Asian market was open and once again they saw a place to make more profits using slave labor. You, the government, have not only allowed corporations to ship our jobs overseas, you encouraged it by tax breaks to the industries. Once China’s and India’s labor forces begin demanding more pay and allowing corporations less profits, where will you turn; Libya or perhaps Somalia? When do we stop our enemy’s from making our products?
Senate Bill 5 was written to break the unions of this state and of these United States. The Ohio bill would ban strikes by public workers and establish penalties for those who do participate in walkouts. Unionized workers could negotiate wages, hours and certain work conditions, but not health care, sick time or pension benefits. It may start with the teachers and firemen, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. On the grand scheme of things, once this union is broken, the UAW, Teamsters, AFL-CIO, etc, will be next to lose their bargaining and render contracts and unions moot.
In closing, I would like to thank the members of this Government, not for helping other countries move up to our standard of living, but rather allowing us to drop to a third world nation status.

Why arent the state workers public servants too?

Oh...because it's about the UNIONS...not the public service...

“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

"Still fighting" just doesn't get it. The unionized government employees have been working for the money for so long that they no longer feel any duty to the taxpayer. They clearly felt that their bosses were "government money", not us. So when they got something out of their bosses, it involved no moral problem whatsoever to just get more money.

Government employees were on both sides of the negotiation table for decades. Naturally, no real negotiation took place, and the real bosses (the taxpayers) were heavily disenfranchised and basically just handed the ever-larger bills at the outcome of each so-called negotiation session.

Well, that huge injustice is coming to an end. Finally.

Notice the unions want a public referendum for everything but their own contracts....

That's how it SHOULD work....

You work for the people...so the people should approve the contract by referendum...

Of course then the unions would end up SUING all the tax payers....

Firemen going door to door..."Good day sir....our contract is up for another public vote....I know we can count on your support...you got a really nice house here...be a shame if it burned down..."

“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

The plans are already being made to put the union "rights" on the ballot for 2012.

You're right in that the unions will never try to negotiate with the taxpayers. The taxpayers are the dupes in this formula. Hopefully the taxpayers will see this truth and vote NO resoundingly on this stupid issue. Unions don't have the right to drain the taxpayers dry.

The same people in Ohio who voted to take away the rights of private property owners, business owners and smokers by putting a smoking ban up to a vote.

You Union Hacks are screwed.


Don't blame me,
I didn't vote for a

Sorry, "still fighting". Unionized government labor is an aberration that we're now fixing.

Let's have a TAXPAYER'S UNION if you insist that unionized government employees is the natural means of laboring for government purposes. Then the union for the government employees would have to negotiate terms with the union for the taxpayers, and then you'll find that you never had the ability to obtain big pay, bigger benefits, and even larger retirements from the real boss here: The taxpayer.

Your pay, benefits and retirements were all unsustainable. Even a dull normal with access to basic economic facts and figures could have figured that out. Not Liberals, however. Curious, that.

SB5 saves millions? Saves millions for whom. How much less taxes are we going to pay?

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