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More on Ohio Budget: Privatization is Front and Center

March 16, 2011

The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which represents about 34,000 unionized state workers, said putting prisons and other assets up for bid is short-sighted and amounts to a fire sale.

“They say taxpayers need to be at the table on collective bargaining contracts, that there needs to be increased transparency,” OCSEA President Eddie L. Parks. “But by selling off state assets like prisons or the Lottery you’ve completely closed the door on transparency. Taxpayers will have no idea how their money is being spent or where it is going.”

Privatization trend continues. I just picked up this report which is about an hour old. This is exactly what I been writing about for five months – the Republican agenda to privatize everything. This is just the beginning of what they want to do – and they will do it unless we stop them.

Middletown Journal reports: [entire article click here]

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich’s two-year, $55.5 billion operating budget calls for cutting funding for local governments, capping college tuition increases, refocusing the massive Ohio Medicaid program, selling off five state prisons, and injecting more choices in how K-12 schools are run.

The spending plan, which must be approved by the General Assembly by June 30, does not include tax increases.

“This budget is woven with one reform after another. It is, I would guess, the most reform-oriented budget in modern Ohio history,” Kasich said.

But while Kasich and his supporters praised the reforms, his critics derided them.

“This is a shell game which will bring upon local governments and towns the most devastating tax increases or job cuts that they’ve ever faced. It’s an assault on teachers, police, firefighters, librarians and even your local school cafeteria worker,” said Brian Rothenberg of Progress Ohio, a left-leaning grassroots organization.

Kasich, a Republican, wants to sell prisons and subcontract with the new owners to house inmates, open state-owned lands for oil and gas drilling, and sell off the Ohio’s $740-million-a-year liquor control business to provide revenue for his new job development program.

Kasich’s budget also uses incentives to prompt changes:

• Teachers’ pay and job security will no longer be determined by seniority, but they will be eligible for $50 in bonus pay for each child that exceeds student benchmarks.

• Local government funding will drop 49 percent between 2011 and 2013, but Ohio’s 3,700 jurisdictions will be given more freedom to cut their costs by sharing services and pooling purchases such as employee health care.

• Ohio Medicaid will start paying doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other providers based on patient outcomes instead of strictly on the volume of services performed.

• Low-level, nonviolent inmates will have a chance to get time knocked off their prison sentences if they participate in education, treatment and job training programs.

Though it gets the most attention, the state’s $55.5 billion general revenue fund is only part of the budget picture. The “all funds budget,” which includes general revenue, totals $119.6 billion.

Kasich said he did not incorporate collective bargaining reforms into the budget plan. Senate Bill 5, which scales back worker rights for 360,000 public employees, is pending in the Ohio House. Supporters of the bill say collective bargaining reform has the potential to save state and local governments billions of dollars in payroll and health care costs, while unions and others say it is an attack on workers who are willing to make concessions during the tough economy.

All funds spending dips by 5.3 percent in fiscal year 2012 and grows by 1.3 percent in fiscal year 2013.

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