Early voting has has been underway for more than a week now on Issue 2, the issue dealing with public employee issues. Today I got an email from Ohio’s Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown, urging me to vote early against the issue. I’ve going to wait until the election to vote, but the email got me to thinking about Issue 2.
After some reflection, I’ve decided I’m going to vote in favor of Issue 2. I recognize that there are arguments the other way, but I’ve made up my mind. Here’s why: I don’t think the collective bargaining model works with public employees. In the classic case, workers collectively bargain with bosses who own the business. The bosses have skin in the game and an incentive to vigorously bargain with the employee’s union. Our political leaders don’t have the same kind of skin in the game, however. To the contrary, they may have been elected with the active support and contributions of public employee unions. I also think that it is not unreasonable to ask public employees to contribute more toward their health insurance and pensions. Many in the private sector pay 100% of the cost of both of those benefits, without any employer contribution. Add to that the fact that there is a lot more job security in the public employee world, and I think that public employees have a pretty good deal.
I don’t believe that Issue 2 would solve our governmental budget problems by itself, and I defer to no one in my admiration for police officers and firefighters, but I also think we simply cannot afford to continue to expand the size, scope, and cost of our state and local governments. Every police officer and every firefighter may be essential — but not every teacher is, and not every clerical worker at the BMV is, either.
If Issue 2 gives our leaders more flexibility to deal with bloated public employee payrolls and to avoid the kind of crippling, long-term pension obligations that are such a problem in states like California — or, for that matter, in countries like Greece — I think that is a good idea. I’m going to vote for Issue 2 because I think it is the prudent thing to do.