The bill passed by a vote of 53-44. Two Republican State Senators who objected to the bill, Timothy Grendell (R-Chesterland) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) questioned its legality. I have extensively discussed the ramifications of the bill with a teacher in the Support SB5 Facebook page. News reports indicate that, for teachers, the bill will base merit heavily on test scores. This basically is forcing teachers to teach by rote, which only forces facts down children. It does not teach them to think or reason. I am not familiar enough with education to suggest a better way to reward merit in education; but I cannot believe that one does not exist. The teaching profession will be hard-hit by this bill; and I would urge the members of the House-Senate conference committee to weigh these concerns heavily when finalizing the bill for Gov. Kasich's signature.
I have supported SB5, and continue to do so; but I am not satisfied with the result. The purpose of the bill should be to help the State of Ohio contain payroll costs, not to punish certain groups of workers or impose burdens unevenly across state employees. With this in mind, I quote with approval a statement by State Rep. Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon, reported in the Columbus Dispatch):
These are not numbers on a page or lines on a graph, they are people with families ... and they do not deserve to be slapped in the face and put further into harm's way because liberty groups or tea party groups or whoever is pulling the Republican strings right now have demonized public workers.From being involved with the Support SB5 Facebook discussion, I can tell you that far too many supporters have demonized public workers. This is just as wrong as the selfishness shown by many of its opponents. Far too few of us (on either side) are even trying to look at this issue rationally.
The unions are expected to call for a referendum in November to repeal this bill. The campaign will be bitter and will divide the state politically in a way that we have not experienced since the Right to Work debate in 1958. Unions may be smaller and less powerful than they were 53 years ago, but they still command a great deal of support.
We can only hope that Gov. Kasich and the Republican leadership in the General Assembly have soberly weighed the advantages of SB5 against what could become a very long, hot summer.