While debate intensifies in Columbus and regarding November’s vote on Issue 2 – which would restrict collective bargaining rights by public employees - the debate is one familiar in other states.
The Ohio version, signed into law earlier this year by Gov. John Kasich, followed measures championed in recent years by Republican governors in Wisconsin and New Jersey.
In Wisconsin, passage of such measures sparked hard-fought campaigns to recall legislators who supported them, and in New Jersey, some proposals ran into stiff opposition in a statehouse controlled by Democrats.
In Ohio, union groups gathered enough signatures to force a November referendum on whether to overturn Kasich's work.
“It was part of a trend, many of the Republican governors elected in the last few years are reforming state and local government,” said John Green, the executive director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, in an interview with The Huffington Post. “Many of these reform packages have changes to bargaining as part of the reform process.”
Much debate over the law – which curtails the right of public employees to collectively bargain over certain benefits and makes other restrictions on what can be negotiated – echoes what was heard in Madison and Trenton during the earlier debates. Kasich’s argument that keeping the law is essential to balancing state and local budgets in an era of declining tax revenues is similar to what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used when pushing his own public employee proposals.
Similarly, arguments by Ohio unions that Kasich’s cuts to the state’s local government fund are the real cause of layoffs in local government echo what was heard in New Jersey when Christie cut local aid.
To explore these issues, Patch and The Huffington Post are collaborating on a series of articles regarding the Issue 2 referendum. This is the first installment in the series.
For the first installment of Huffington Post's coverage, please click here.
Coming Monday: Ohioans brace for an intense campaign, on the air and in your neighborhood, in the statewide referendum on curbing the power of public employees' unions