When we read this article in the Dispatch by senior editor Joe Hallet, we were taken aback a little by how fawning it was, and how it seemd to suffer from quite a lot of selective amnesia. One Worthington school teacher thought so too, and forwarded to us his email to Mr. Hallet.
I read your column on Sunday and came across this line:
(Kasich) used Senate Bill 5 to take on public-employee unions, whose pay and benefit packages were growing unsustainable for taxpayers, in part because their local government and school officials had forgotten how to say no.
I don't think this is a fair characterization at all. The front page article ("Public, private compensation in the same ballpark.") in the Dispatch on Sunday demonstrated that public employee salaries and benefits are on par with those in the private sector. By your logic, combined with the article on pg 1 Sunday, you could say that private sector salaries have also grown unsustainable since private employees have a slightly richer salary and benefit package than public employees.
No discussion of the impact of public employee salaries on budgets is complete without pointing out that, since 2005, the income tax was cut 21%, the estate tax was eliminated, and the locally collected tangible personal property (TPP) tax was replaced with the state collected commercial activities tax (CAT). The income tax cut resulted in a sustained decrease at the state level in tax revenue which was evident even prior to the recession even with the addition of new CAT revenues. In 2005 total state revenue was $56.5 billion - by 2011 that had fallen to an estimated $50.5 billion which is $43.5 billion in 2005 dollars!
On the local level, governments and school districts were literally robbed of tax revenue by the state legislature's elimination of the TPP and estate tax. All of this has dealt a crushing blow to the ability of local governments and school districts to sustain services by starving them of local revenue as well as state aid.
These tax changes were heralded in 2005 as essential to economic growth in Ohio with the promise that the reforms would result in job growth in our state. I think the record on this score shows that tax reform in Ohio has not achieved the promised results and has instead put incredible stress on the state and local governments' ability to provide vital and expected services.
It is disingenuous to say that public salaries and benefits are unsustainable while ignoring the impact tax reform has had on Ohio's ability to fund its government. Furthermore, the front page of the Dispatch on the same day as your column refutes the notion that public salaries and benefits are out of line or unsustainable.
Mark Hill, Worthington school teacher
We previousy wrote about this issue in an article titled "GUTTING EDUCATION FOR A CUP OF CHEAP COFFEE"