Kasich, unions, and education
It just so happens that both parents of a friend of mine at work are Ohio teachers. In the new political and economic climate following the election his family is looking at a drop in income. My friend has decided this is Kasich’s fault, but I wonder what the truth of the matter is.
An economics professor from OU has mostly positive things to say about Kasich’s choices:
Richard Vedder: Kasich’s plan for higher education has good, bad points.
This is the part of particular interest to me though:
“Faced with the need to sharply reduce state expenditures both because of the recession and the irresponsible bipartisan failure of politicians to cut spending earlier, not to mention the end to federal stimulus funding, the governor had to propose huge cuts to all areas of government.”
Sounds to me like my friend is blaming Kasich for someone else’s mess that the governor now has to clean up. We’re all familiar with the recession, so let’s start with the bipartisan failure of politicians to cut spending earlier.
“Consider the boom cycle preceding this latest recession. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, combined state general-fund revenue increased twice as fast as the rate of inflation, producing an excess $600 billion. If legislatures had chosen to be responsible, they could have maintained all current state services, increased spending to compensate for inflation and population growth, and still enacted a $500 billion tax cut.
Instead, lawmakers spent the windfall. From 2002 to 2007, overall spending rose 50 percent faster than inflation. Education spending increased almost 70 percent faster than inflation, even though the relative school-age population was falling.”
Ohio didn’t decrease, or even stabilize spending when the economy tanked either.
“Like most states, Ohio is in a jam, what with a budget deficit, high unemployment, and slumping economy. It operates on a two-year budget cycle and in fiscal years 2008-9, the state spent $49.8 billion. Now, they’ve just signed a new budget. A tough budget that reflects a lot of tough decisions, hard choices, and yadda yadda yadda.
The result? In fiscal 2010-11, the state will spend an estimated $50.5 billion.”
What happened you ask?
“When you count one-time federal economic stimulus dollars, public education funding rises by $502 million over the two-year budget cycle.”
One-time? So what happens this time?
“While state funding for education would rise slightly, schools will be hurt by the loss of federal stimulus money: $981 million in overall Recovery Act funds for Ohio dry up starting July 1.
Factoring in the loss of federal money, overall funding for education would drop 11.5% in the coming fiscal year. But Kasich promised to double the voucher program, lift the cap on charter schools and allow parents and teachers to take over failing schools.”
So state education was being propped up by a temporary infusion of Federal funds. 54% of the lost funding was Federal money.
I am pleased to see Kasich’s support for the school voucher program was genuine. I am very much in favor of school choice programs, for reasons better articulated by Dr. Walter Williams than I could hope to.
So what is a teacher’s union to do? Why, charge each member a $50 fee of course!
As Thomas Sowell has so aptly put it, “The biggest myth about labor unions is that unions are for the workers. Unions are for unions, just as corporations are for corporations and politicians are for politicians.”
So what is the status quo the unions are fighting to keep by taking more money from teachers?
“The ’employers’ (taxpayers through their elected officials) have slowly lost their ability to determine the terms of employment offers. The unions now determine working hours, hiring criteria, the quantity of ‘output’ to be produced per day, the number of sick and vacation and holiday days, how their performance will be evaluated etc. No longer can the employer make an ‘offer’ for a job with requirements that fit the needs of the public institution.”
Andrew Klavan gives a good basic overview of how this situation and those like it managed to come about in this YouTube video.
So is Kasich the greatest thing since sliced bread? Hell no. He is, however, a vast improvement over his predecessor, whose economic strategies consisted mainly of kicking the can down the road and propping up the budget with Federal stimulus money to placate unions. Kasich is taking at least some of the necessary steps to bring Ohio back from the brink if fiscal disaster. Senate Bill 5 is not the first sign of the Apocalypse, it is a reality check. Even Californians have started to notice that things have “gotten way out of hand.“