Senate Bill 5 Saved Money Even in Defeat?

The headline certainly seems to be the case according to this article from the Columbus Dispatch.  As the article explains,

Many districts have fared well, school officials said, because teachers traded pay concessions for renewed contracts under the specter of Senate Bill 5, the state bill that would have curbed collective-bargaining rights if not for its repeal last year. Also, more employees than usual opted for retirement rather than face the uncertainty hanging over pay, pensions and other issues.

“I think you saw a lot of concessions, and there was a lot of freezing of salary schedules, and so all of that saves you money on the expenditures side,” said David Varda, the director of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.

The Buckeye Institute is currently reviewing the five-year forecasts of each of the over 600 public school districts in the state to see what their expected deficits (or surpluses) will be at the end of that time period.  Early looks show that the finances of districts are substantially better in these projections than they were the last time we looked at these numbers (using projections from October of 2010 prior to the gubernatorial).

Of course, many unions claimed that these concessions that were being made undercut the whole rationale for SB 5 in the first place.

However, there is a very large caveat here that the public sector unions fail to mention- would they have offered these same concessions in the absence of SB 5 on the ballot?  Were unions trying to lock in some savings while afraid further cuts could happen if SB 5 had passed?  Were they trying to actually undercut the message of the proponents of SB 5 and collective bargaining reform through strategically timed concessions?

Who knows for sure, but the bottom line is, districts do appear to be stretching their levy dollars more now. Unfortunately, without a fundamental reset of the type the Buckeye Institute has long discussed, such as actual base pay cuts and salary increases tied closely to inflation, these concessions will offer only a temporary reprieve.

Don’t expect further concessions when contract renewal time comes around next time, especially when there has been no collective bargaining reform to keep the pressure on.

Voters will be asked to get back on the property tax hike hamster wheel again and there is unlikely to be an “SB 5” on the ballot to protect them.

Greg R. Lawson

About Greg R. Lawson

Greg R. Lawson is the Statehouse Liaison and Policy Analyst with the Buckeye Institute
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