Yost Openly Campaigns on Protecting Kasich

After downplaying office’s own JobsOhio audit, now Yost fundraising on promise to protect Kasich

COLUMBUS — Yesterday, State Auditor Dave Yost’s campaign sent out a fundraising email imploring folks to donate to his campaign to protect Governor John Kasich and upset union workers.  Even worse, with absolutely no factual basis, Yost accused his opponent John Patrick Carney of planning to abuse the power of the Auditor’s Office.  Yost’s fundraising email even claimed that his “campaign was raising enough money to get the job done,” even though John Patrick Carney has outraised Yost in all but one finance reporting period so far.

In response to Yost’s fundraising email, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Dave Yost is panicking and now making completely baseless and false attacks against his opponent in which he should immediately and publicly apologize for making.  However, this email shows that a mere month after courting union member donors, Yost intends to use his office for two purposes: protect John Kasich like he did with his report on JobsOhio and go after working families’ collective bargaining rights.  Ohio needs an Auditor who’s looking out for taxpayers, not fellow partisan politicians.”

BACKGROUND

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges was Yost’s campaign manager in 2010 and a friend of Dave Yost, who pressured Yost on the JobsOhio audit.

In a Columbus Dispatch column, Joe Hallett reported that: “Also turning up the temperature on Yost was his friend and 2010 [sic in original] campaign manager, Matt Borges, executive director of the Ohio Republican Party and Kasich’s choice to be the party’s next chairman.” [Source: Columbus Dispatch (3/17/2013), “Yost feeling pressure to back off of attempt to audit JobsOhio.”]

Governor Kasich also admitted that he personally called Yost to discuss the JobsOhio audit.  The Columbus Dispatch reported that Governor Kasich acknowledged that he had personally talked to Yost about the JobsOhio audit while it was in process.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (3/13/2013), “Kasich says he's talking to Yost about JobsOhio audit.”]

Yost’s JobsOhio report found numerous instances in which JobsOhio ignored state ethics laws.

JobsOhio’s Directors And Officers Failed To Sign Their Conflict Of Interest Forms Until Late 2012. According to The Ohio Auditor’s Report on JobsOhio “None of the directors or officers signed the annual affirmations (i.e., Conflict of Interest form) prior to June   30, 2012. However, eight of the nine Directors signed their affirmations between November 1, 2012 and   January 14, 2013. One Director, who served on the Board until July 5, 2012, did not sign an affirmation   prior to the end of his term.  ” [The Ohio Auditor’s Report on JobsOhio, 11/1/13]

Auditor Recommended That JobsOhio Tighten Conflict Of Interest Policies According to The Ohio Auditor’s Report on JobsOhio “We recommend JobsOhio develop and implement policies and procedures to reasonably ensure each   member of the Board of Directors signs the Conflict of Interest form at the initiation of his or her term and   at the beginning of each subsequent fiscal year. These procedures should include a tracking mechanism   that identifies each member, his or her term, and the date the member actually signed the Conflict of   Interest form.  ” [The Ohio Auditor’s Report on JobsOhio, 11/1/13]

Yost’s press conference about these findings sought to minimize them.  In explaining why he was not going to review the numerous instances in which his own office found that JobsOhio failed to comply with Ohio ethics laws that were written for it, or instituted ethics policies it was statutorily obligated to implement, or follow the policies it did write, Yost said “none of this is headline making stuff.” [Source: Marc Kovac at Ohio Capital Blog (11/21/2013), “Yost on JobsOhio Audit 1 of 7” around 4:07 mark.]

Two weeks earlier, Yost’s office made a finding of recovery against a private ambulance company for lack of adequate documentation to justify Medicaid payments it received.  Just two weeks ago today, Yost’s office made a finding of recovery of $61,385.00 and reported the company to the Ohio Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit based on documented cases of overpayments or Medicaid payments made without supporting documentation to support them.  [Source: Ohio Auditor’s Medicaid Compliance Report on Caring Hands Transportation of Ohio, LLC (11/7/2013).]

Two weeks earlier, Yost blasted a company for violating the law and poor documentation.  In the State Auditor’s press release concerning Caring Hands Transportation of Ohio, LLC, Yost said: “There aren’t any shortcuts around the law,” Auditor Yost said. “Keeping an accurate and complete book is part of the job. Just get it done.” [Source: State Auditor’s Press Release (11/7/2013), “Ambulette Company Owes Ohio Medicaid $71,000.”]

However, Yost dismissed the lack of documentation in JobsOhio as an issue.  When specifically addressing the lack of documentation to support tax dollars JobsOhio received from DSA, Yost remarked: “Not unusual that there is some lack of documentation. We don’t live in a perfect world.” [Source: Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Chrissie Thompson on Twitter (@CThompsonENQ): “Yost @OhioAuditor on incomplete receipt records: "Not unusual that there is some lack of documentation. We don't live in a perfect world."]

Despite Husted’s Efforts, Absentee Ballot Application Mailings Occur

Husted cheerleading disingenuous at best

COLUMBUS — Late yesterday, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted announced the mailing of absentee ballot applications to all registered Ohio voters. The first such statewide mailing took place in 2012 in response to a deal struck with local leaders in Cuyahoga County in 2011 following Husted’s directive barring local boards of elections from proactively mailing these applications.

In response to Husted’s announcement, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“The mailing of absentee ballot applications to registered Ohio voters is a good thing, and a practice popular in many counties before Jon Husted prevented them from doing so in 2011. Thankfully, he bowed to the concerns of local officials for the good of Ohio voters.  If Secretary Husted really wanted to make it easier to vote and reduce lines on Election Day, he would not have advocated for the elimination of the first week of early voting, and would have provided working Ohioans with evening early vote hours they can actually use.”

BACKGROUND

Husted’s repeated claim that he sends all Ohio voters an absentee ballot is misleading, at best.  While Husted mentions that he is mailing absentee ballots in the general election as his office agreed to do in 2011 in a settlement with local leaders he fails to mention that S.B. 205, will prevent the Secretary of State’s Office from doing so in the future unless the General Assembly specifically appropriates money to allow the Secretary to do so.  Also, Husted’s plan will not actually send an absentee ballot application to every registered voter.  Husted will not be sending these forms to anyone who registers to vote the first six days of October nor any voter who has been flagged as “inactive” because they have not yet responded to a postcard from their County Board of Elections seeking a confirmation of their residency and did not vote in the 2010 or 2012 general election.  [Source: Secretary of State Directive 2014-15.]

The legislature eliminated a week of early voting at Jon Husted’s urging.  The Republican legislature reduced early voting by a week by eliminating the “Golden Week” after receiving a public letter from Secretary of State Jon Husted urging them to do so.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (10/25/2013), “Husted asks legislators to trim early voting.”]

Not satisfied with the early voting cuts made by the legislature, Husted then unilaterally issued a directive that reduced early voting hours by eliminating most evening and weekend hours.  On February 25, 2014, Jon Husted issued Directive 2014-06, (included in the ACLU’s lawsuit against Secretary of Husted), in which Husted unilaterally ended Sunday early voting the final two weeks before the election, and most evening and weekend early voting hours in Ohio. In a press release from his office, Husted said he decided to take unilateral action because the legislature “has neither . . . introduced nor adopted” these reduced early voting hours he had advocated.  [Source: Ohio Secretary Of State’s Office Press Release (2/25/2014).]

Yost Accepted Excessive Donation From Coal Executive

State Auditor Has Failed To Refund Illegal Donation

COLUMBUS –According to campaign finance data maintained by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, Wayne Boich of Miami Beach, Florida donated $11,543.70 to Yost’s campaign in November 2011 and another $12,155.52 in December 2013.  None of Yost’s campaign finance reports have shown a refund for excess donations from Yost’s campaign.  Boich is Chairman and CEO of the Boich Companies, a privately held coal mining and marketing company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

In response to Yost’s alleged excessive donation, Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“After taking a substantial amount of money from out-of-state employees of Murray Energy, Yost appears to have taken an illegally excessive donation from another out-of-state coal executive.  How can Ohioans trust Dave Yost to protect their tax dollars when he apparently cannot even check his own campaign finance reports to ensure they comply with Ohio campaign finance laws?”

Former Kasich ODOT Employee Accused of Sexual Battery of a Minor

After surrendering law license pending discipline, Kasich appointed Spencer to ODOT’s Chief Legal Counsel’s Office

COLUMBUS –On Friday, Scott Spencer was arrested and charged with two felony counts of sexual battery after a Highbanks Metro Park ranger caught him with a bound-and gagged 14-year old girl at a park shelter.  Described by the Columbus Dispatch as appearing to have a bright future in the Ohio Republican Party in the 1980s and 1990s, Spencer served as a press liaison for the Ohio House Republican Caucus and an aide to former Republican State Senator Donald “Buz” Lukens in the 1980s.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (8/19/2014), “Man accused of sex with teen at park lost ODOT job over porn websites.”]

In 2003, Spencer surrendered his law license while facing disciplinary actions from the Ohio Supreme Court after he was alleged to have falsified documents for a client in a lawsuit after already having his license suspended for fabricating documents in another suits.  Despite this history, the Kasich Administration hired Spencer in 2012 to work in ODOT’s chief legal counsel’s office as a program administrator charged with ensuring the agency complied with public record and equal opportunity rules.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (8/19/2014), “Man accused of sex with teen at park lost ODOT job over porn websites.”]

By November 2012, the same year he was hired, Spencer received a written reprimand for leaving “unwelcomed” messages on a female co-worker’s voicemail after he had been “previously counseled regarding unwelcome actions in relation to other female employees.”  However, Spencer was only fired when a search of his work computer revealed he was visiting bondage fetish websites.

In response to Mr. Spencer’s arrest and history with ODOT, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“Despite Spencer’s history of forging and falsifying documents, John Kasich gave this sexual predator a job in ODOT’s legal counsel’s office, put him in charge of public records and of all things, equal opportunity standards. Almost immediately, Spencer began sexually harassing women in the office. This guy was a sexual predator and it is simply terrifying that he worked in a chief legal office for the Kasich administration.”

Ohio Drops to 40th in Job Growth under Kasich

COLUMBUS – Today, the Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business updated its nonpartisan job growth rate given Friday’s release of the July jobs report for Ohio.

In response to today’s Arizona State University job creation ranking update, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“Since John Kasich was elected, Ohio’s job creation has plummeted.  John Kasich campaigned for governor on the promise that Ohio would lead the country. Ohio’s economy is weak and Governor Kasich has failed.”

BACKGROUND 

Nationally, the country now has more jobs than it did at its pre-recession level.  With today’s national jobs report for May, the country now has more jobs than it did before the 2008 recession.  [Source: New York Times (6/6/2014), “In Jobs Report, Two Milestones.”]

Ohio still has over 149,300 jobs to regain to return to its pre-recession levels—the fifth highest deficit in the nation.  Ohio has 149,300 jobs left to regain before returning to its pre-recession number of jobs it had in June 2007.  Alaska, Colorado, D.C., Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah all have regained all the jobs lost recession roughly a year ago, yet Ohio has the fifth largest amount of jobs left to regain to reach its pre-recession numbers.   Neighboring West Virginia reached its pre-recession jobs number back in February.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, seasonally adjusted (accessed 8/18/2014.)]

When Kasich was elected Governor, Ohio’s job creation rate was nearly twice that of the national rate.  Now, Ohio’s ranked 40th in job creation.  In November 2010, Ohio’s job creation rate was 1.02% compared to the national average of  .54%.   In July 2010, Ohio was ranked 21st in job creation.  Now, Ohio is ranked 40th in the nation with a job growth rate  (.83%) lower than it was in 2010. [Source: Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business, “Job Growth USA” website (accessed 8/18/2014)]

For the 21st straight month, Ohio’s job creation rate has been lower than the national average.  In reaction to the July jobs report, economic research analyst George Zeller noted, “July 2014 was the 21st consecutive month when Ohio’s job growth was slower than the U.S. national average, with the gap between Ohio’s rate and the U.S. rate increasing in July.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/15/2014), “Ohio lost 12,400 jobs in July: Unemployment rate up to 5.7%.”]

In 2010, Ohio created over 55,000 new jobs — more than it did in 2013 under Kasich.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio created 55,100 jobs in 2010, a year before Kasich took office, while only creating 50,400 jobs last year.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 5/8/2014)].

When adjusted for inflation, Ohio incomes fell the last three quarters of 2013.  According to a U.S. Department of Labor report, the “average wage fell by more than one percentage point” in the fourth quarter of 2013 after falling the second and third quarter.  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (6/19/2014), “Wages flat in Ohio, decline locally; state job growth below national average, Labor Department says.”] 

Unemployment rate drop has been fueled by people leaving the workforce, not job creation.  Since Kasich took office, Ohioans labor market has shrunk by 91,000.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, 91,000 Ohioans have dropped out of the labor market since Kasich took office. In 2014 so far alone, over 43,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market. [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 8/15/2014)]

Economist: “A declining labor force doesn’t have anything to do with a healing economy.”  Mekael Teshome, an economist for PNC Bank noted that recent drops in the unemployment rate “wasn’t entirely for the right reasons” noting that “[a] declining labor force doesn’t have anything to do with a healing economy.” [Source: Youngstown Vindicator (4/23/2014), “Economists cast doubt on unemployment figures.”]

Ohio’s economy grew less in 2013 than it did in 2010.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, Ohio’s GDP grew 2.5% in 2010 compared to the initial projected 1.8% in 2013.  [Source:  U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, Press Release (6/11/2014).]

Last year, thirty other States had stronger personal income growth than Ohio.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, Ohio ranked 31st in the nation, trailing the national average, in personal income growth.  Ohio also ranked 30th in the nation in per capita personal income.  [U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, Press Release (3/25/2014).]

ConAgra Foods announces its closing two plants, laying off 170 employees.  This morning, ConAgra Foods announced that it would close two Ohio plants in a cost-saving operations consolidation move.  In 2012, 25 positions were eliminated at the ConAgra plant in Marion, resulting in a reduction of shifts.  [Source:  Marion Star (6/6/2014), “ConAgra Foods closing plants.”]

Under Kasich, Ohio Led the Nation in Job Losses in July

As 36 other states gained jobs, Ohio led the nation in job losses

COLUMBUS – This morning, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released the July regional and state jobs report showing where Ohio fits in with the rest of the country. After losing nearly 3,000 jobs in May, July’s report showed Ohio lost 12,400 jobs overall with 2,900 jobs lost in manufacturing.  While 36 other states created jobs, Ohio had the largest number of jobs lost in the country.

In response to today’s latest economic data, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“While the country as a whole has more jobs than it did before the recession, Ohio under John Kasich has not regained the jobs it lost in recession.  In fact, we have less jobs today than we had in April. Kasich campaigned for governor on a promise that he’d make Ohio an economic leader.   Instead, Ohio’s lagging behind under Kasich while the rest of the nation surges ahead.”

WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN SAYING ABOUT OHIO’S LAGGING ECONOMY:

After calling the jobs report “disappointing,”  “July 2014 was the 21st consecutive month when Ohio’s job growth was slower than the U.S. national average, with the gap between Ohio’s rate and the U.S. rate increasing in July.”Economic Research Analyst George Zeller. [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/15/2014), “Ohio lost 12,400 jobs in July: Unemployment rate up to 5.7%.”]

“About the only thing that’s made the numbers look good at all is the decline is the decline in the labor force.”—Economist Bill LaFayette, owner of economic consulting firm Regionomics.  [Source: Columbus Dispatch (8/16/2014), “Blip or start of a trend? Jobless rate rises to 5.7%.”]

“Ohio hasn’t had the big rebound like other states.”—Michael Wolf, an economist with Wells Fargo & Co. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (6/21/2014), “Ohio's jobless rate of 5.5% lowest since April 2007.”]

Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus Demands Independent Investigation of Sexual Harassment in Attorney General’s Office

COLUMBUS – Today, the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus launched a petition demanding that an independent investigator be allowed to review Attorney General Mike DeWine’s handling of a sexual harassment complaint in his office.

Last year, a former intern made allegations that she was sexually harassed by a senior male staffer and close personal friend of Mike DeWine.  During the course of the investigation, a whistleblower approached the office’s EEO investigator and was promised confidentiality.  DeWine demanded to be interviewed by the investigator and forced her to turn over the informant’s name. The investigation was closed three days later without identifying the harasser.

Subsequently, DeWine’s senior staff referred the EEO investigator to the Franklin County Prosecutor for potential felony charges. No charges were pursued, and the investigator ultimately was never even disciplined internally.

Kathy DiCristofaro, Chair of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus, made the following statement:

“Mike DeWine’s explanations for why he interfered in this investigation and demanded a confidential informant’s name don’t add up. Now, we’ve found that DeWine’s senior staff tried to retaliate against his office’s own investigator. Ohioans deserve a thorough and independent investigation how DeWine and his staff handled these sexual harassment allegations.”

Higher Unemployment, 12,400 Jobs Lost in July Under John Kasich’s Failed Policies

As Ohio loses jobs, labor market continues to shrink

COLUMBUS – This morning, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released the July jobs report and revised June figures for Ohio. After losing nearly 3,000 jobs in May, the revised June job creation figure was reduced by almost a third.  July’s report showed Ohio lost 12,400 jobs overall with 2,900 jobs lost in manufacturing.  Ohio’s unemployment rate increased by .2% even though 6,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market—the 5th consecutive month Ohio’s labor market has shrunk.  In July, Ohio’s labor participation rate fell below the national rate.   This is third straight month that the number of employed Ohioans has shrunk.

In response to this month’s economic data, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Under John Kasich, Ohio’s job growth continues to drag behind the rest of the nation, and more people give up on finding a job in our state each month. These numbers reveal a frightening reality about Ohioans struggling in a weak economy. Kasich’s policies have failed to create the jobs Ohioans need, all while shifting the tax burden onto middle class families.”

WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN SAYING ABOUT OHIO’S LAGGING ECONOMY:

Once again, Ohio had a subpar gain to that of the United States for 20 consecutive months,” he said. “What this means is that more than 100,000 Ohio workers can’t find a job because our recovery is too slow.” – Economic Research Analyst George Zeller. [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/18/2014), “Ohio’s unemployment rate 5.5%; state gained 12,700 jobs in June.”]

“Ohio hasn’t had the big rebound like other states.”—Michael Wolf, an economist with Wells Fargo & Co. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (6/21/2014), “Ohio's jobless rate of 5.5% lowest since April 2007.”]

BACKGROUND

For the 20th straight month, Ohio’s job creation rate has been lower than the national average.  In reaction to the June jobs report, economic research analyst George Zeller noted, “Ohio had a subpar gain to that of the United States for 20 consecutive months.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/18/2014), “Ohio’s unemployment rate 5.5%; state gained 12,700 jobs in June.”]

Job creation under John Kasich in Ohio has lagged U.S. job growth.  In fact, at least 8 other governor’s terms since 1959 have seen stronger job growth than Ohio has seen so far under John Kasich.  [Source:  Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/5/2014), “Ohio lags U.S. jobs growth, as it has under a half-century of governors from John Kasich to Michael DiSalle.”]

When Kasich was elected Governor, Ohio’s job creation rate was nearly twice that of the national rate.  Now, Ohio’s ranked 38th in job creation.  In November 2010, Ohio’s job creation rate was 1.02% compared to the national average of  .54%.  Now, Ohio is ranked 38th in the nation with a job growth rate  (.83%) lower than it was in 2010. [Source: Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business, “Job Growth USA” website (accessed 6/23/2014)]

In 2010, Ohio created over 55,000 new jobs — more than it did in 2013 under Kasich.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio created 55,100 jobs in 2010, a year before Kasich took office, while only creating 50,400 jobs last year.  [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 5/8/2014)].

Job gains under Kasich are in lower paying industries than the jobs lost in the recession.  “Weekly hourly earnings in the industries that showed employment gains since the recession in Ohio range from $12 to about $25 per hour,” [Veronica Kalich, an economics professor at Baldwin Wallace University] said, adding that professional and business services came in a little higher. “Employment has not recovered in the higher paying jobs.”  [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, (7/7/2014), “Ohio has not recovered 120,000 jobs lost since the recession: some say number higher.”]

Unemployment rate drop has been fueled by people leaving the workforce, not job creation.  Since Kasich took office, Ohioans labor market has shrunk by 91,000.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, 91,000 Ohioans have dropped out of the labor market since Kasich took office. In 2014 so far alone, over 43,000 Ohioans dropped out of the labor market. [Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, LAUS Survey, seasonally adjusted (accessed 8/15/2014)]

Nationally, the country now has more jobs than it did at its pre-recession level.  With today’s national jobs report for May, the country now has more jobs than it did before the 2008 recession.  [Source: New York Times (6/6/2014), “In Jobs Report, Two Milestones.”]

Ohio Democratic Party Sues Kasich, Taylor over Refusal to Comply With Public Records Request

COLUMBUS –Today, the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in the Ohio Supreme Court against Governor John Kasich and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor over their refusal to comply with their legal obligation to provide copies of requested public records for over two months regarding correspondences between Lt. Governor Mary Taylor and her former chief-of-staff in the events leading to her former chief-of-staff’s resignation.

At issue in the case is a June 9, 2014 public records request in which the Ohio Democratic Party made an official request to Governor Kasich’s office for the following:

  • Correspondence, whether written or electronic, between Lt. Governor Taylor and former Chief of Staff Laura Johnson from June 2013 through June 2014
  • Correspondence, whether written  or electronic, between Lt. Governor Taylor’s former Chief of Staff Laura Johnson and Heather Brandt from June 2013 through June 2014

The next day, Governor Kasich’s office acknowledged receipt of the records request with an emailed letter.  Over the next two months, the Governor’s office continued to refuse to comply with the request without producing a single email.

With regard to the lawsuit filed, Chairman Chris Redfern released the following statement:

“Governor Kasich’s administration has stonewalled public records requests for years, and rarely even speaks to the press. Kasich’s unwillingness to provide any transparency or accountability of his administration is unconscionable.  It is their duty to the taxpayers of Ohio to release the records immediately so Ohioans can find out why these staffers left, including one who cited a ‘hostile work environment’ in Taylor’s office.”

Yost Assaults Middle Class Families in Mahoning County Performance Audit

Over Two-Thirds of Yost’s Potential Savings Mimic Voter-Rejected Assault on Collective Bargaining Rights

COLUMBUS –Yesterday, State Auditor Dave Yost released a performance audit of the Mahoning County Engineer’s Office in which Yost claimed he had identified a potential $566,000 in annual savings.  However, over two-thirds of that figure ($384,000) is based on nothing more than renegotiating provisions in the office’s collective bargaining agreement in ways similar to the restrictions mandated in SB 5 that nearly 72% of voters in Mahoning County voted to repeal in the 2011 general election.

In response to Yost’s performance audit findings, Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern issued the following statement:

“Two-thirds of Yost’s so-called anticipated savings in this performance are based on nothing more than the same assault on employees pay and pension benefits that voters in Mahoning County and across Ohio overwhelmingly rejected in 2011. Dave Yost is abusing his office to attack Ohio’s families.  Ohioans want an Auditor that will ferret out actual waste and abuse in government, not use the office for an ideological crusade to attack middle-class families’ pension and hazard pay benefits.”

BACKGROUND

Yost’s performance audit pushed the Engineer’s Office to renegotiate its collective bargaining agreement to contain components similar to those mandated by SB 5 in 2011.  Yost’s first recommendation in the performance audit is for the Engineer’s Office to “[r]enegotiate provisions within the collective bargaining agreement.”  Specifically, Yost claims that by reducing employee’s pension benefits and longevity pay and eliminating hazard pay altogether would save roughly $364,000 annually.  In total, Yost suggests that $384,000 could be saved a year by forcing employees to cut benefits the county already agreed to provide in contract negotiations.  [Source: State Auditor’s website, Mahoning County Engineer’s Office Performance Audit (dated August 12, 2014)]

Many of these recommendations are similar to things mandated in SB 5 in 2011.  SB 5 specifically attacked both pension benefits and longevity pay.  However, not even SB 5 mandated that the State eliminate hazard pay as Yost urged in his performance audit.  [Source: Legislative Service Commission, Final Analysis of SB 5 at pages 38 and 44.]

Nearly 72% of Mahoning County voters voted to repeal SB 5 in 2011.  According to the Official Results of the 2011 general election,  57,732 voted to reject Issue 2 (referendum on SB 5) to the 22,562 who voted to approve it.  Overall, Ohioans statewide  rejected Issue 2 by a nearly 62% to 38% margin.  [Source: Ohio Secretary of State’s website, Official Results for Issue 2, November 8, 2011.]

Paid for and authorized by the Ohio Democratic Party, not authorized by any federal candidate or campaign committee. Chris Redfern, Chairman, 340 East Fulton St, Columbus, Ohio 43215.