Ohio Senator Joe Schiavoni (33rd District) was the guest speaker at the Democratic Fall Rally. Schiavoni addressed State Issue 2 during his speech.
Ohio Senator Joe Schiavoni (33rd District) was the guest speaker at the Democratic Fall Rally. Schiavoni addressed State Issue 2 during his speech.
The Hardin County Democrats held its annual Fall Luncheon and Rally at the Kenton Moose on Saturday, with State Senator Joe Schiavoni (33rd District) as the guest speaker. Schiavoni addressed his opposition to Issue 2, and gave his reasons for asking others to vote no on Issue 2, which would repeal Senate Bill 5. Senate Bill 5 revises the state’s collective bargaining laws.
As the youngest member of the State Senate, Schiavoni said when he was first elected, there was more balance in the legislature. The Democrats were in control of the Senate, and the Republicans were in charge of the House, and Gov. Ted Strickland was also a Democrat. He said in order to get things done, all of those involved had to compromise and work together.
Now, Schiavoni said that it seems like they are only working together if they are doing what current Governor John Kasich wants and the majority wants, and that included the passage of Senate Bill 5.
Schiavoni said that he received SB 5 only minutes before the first hearing on it was called. During the three-week process, he noted that there were no clear answers given by Senator Shannon Jones, who proposed the bill, and he said it was obvious that she did not write the bill. Schiavoni said he asked questions on how it would be determined who would get merit pay, and Jones said it was to reward better employees. Again he asked how that would be determined, and did not receive a sufficient answer.
Schiavoni also asserted that certain members of the committee were “pulled off” the committee in order to get SB 5 passed because they were going to vote no. He also said that at the last moment, Sen. Cliff Hite came to the vote and voted yes without attending a single committee meeting or hearing any testimony.
Schiavoni said that he is a Worker’s Compensation lawyer, and the matter is personal to him since he has worked with so many public employees.
He was happy that enough signatures were collected to place a referendum on the November ballot so the people can decide whether or not SB 5 will be enforced. A “no” vote on Issue 2 will repeal SB 5, while a “yes” vote on Issue 2 will keep SB 5 in place.
“Thank God that we live in a state where voters can right the wrongs of their elected officials,” Schaivoni said.
Schiavoni implored those present at the Democratic luncheon to get out in their towns and inform the people of Issue 2. He said that the issue is confusing, and people don’t know what a “yes” or “no” vote will mean.
Schiavoni continued that if Issue 2 passes, and SB 5 remains in place, that teachers, police, firemen, and public workers will be affected. He said that even if it looks like other businesses won’t be affected, they will be. Even non-union businesses like restaurants and car lots could see a loss of customers if the aforementioned workers suffer a loss of income. Also, for example, if teacher salaries are reduced, Schiavoni said that young people won’t consider becoming a teacher, and will opt for other careers. All of those reasons are why he wants SB 5 repealed.
When asked, Schiavoni confirmed that he believes if SB 5 is repealed, members of the legislature will break it up into separate bills and present them again. He said that the state government is essentially saying to the people of Ohio: “We don’t think that you can collectively bargain correctly.”
At the end of the presentation, Don Traxler, Chairman of the Hardin County Democratic Committee, said that Issue 2 is not a party issue, as six Republican Senators voted no on SB 5. “It’s about fairness,” Traxler said. He noted that having two teachers in his family, and being a former teacher himself, he wants his grandchildren to have good public schools when they get older. He also said that being OEA President in 1973-74, he had to deal with countless teacher strikes, and since collective bargaining began in 1983, there have been less than one teacher strike per year in Ohio.
Other issues that Schiavoni discussed included the upcoming state budget cuts. He said that it has already been passed that local governments will receive 25 percent less funding in FY 2012, and 50 percent less funding in FY 2013. He said that state funding to school districts will also be cut around 10-15 percent.
He called it “passing the buck” since the loss of funding will increase the number of levies on the local ballots. Then the public will have to make up the loss out of their own pocket.
Schiavoni also addressed the governor’s intentions to consider selling or leasing the Ohio Turnpike. He is not in favor of this idea, as it would only be “one-time money” and yet it would cause years of misery. He is concerned that if the turnpike is sold to a private company, that the tolls would double, while maintenance would not be done, causing an unsafe situation.
Schiavoni’s final topic dealt with the Congressional redistricting and the 2012 primary elections. He explained that two seats were lost, from 18 to 16. Of those 16 seats, 12 will likely be won by Republicans, and four will probably be Democrats - not balanced. The Supreme Court ruled that the redistricting is subject to referendum (like SB 5 was) and that it could be placed in the hands of the Ohio voters if enough signatures are collected.
As it stands, there will be two primaries in 2012. The local and state candidates’ primary will be held in March, and the Congressional and Presidential primary will be held in June. The cost of holding two primaries will be around $15 million, which the local Boards of Elections cannot afford. As a result, the state government said they would find the money in the budget to give towards the primaries’ costs. A fact that was not lost on Schiavoni, who said it was a miracle they were able to find $15 million “right away” and yet are cutting funding to everyone else.
He continued that having two primary elections will only confuse and annoy voters. He believes that the reason for having two primaries is to put a “crunch” on state Democratic candidates to prepare to run for office.
The only positive thing he mentioned is that all of the political action has gotten a lot of people, especially young people, involved in government. He said that at the moment, “everything hinges on Issue 2.”
At the end of the luncheon, it was announced by Daniella Chambers, President of the ONU College Democrats, that a debate on Issue 2 will be held on Tuesday, November 1, at 7 p.m.