Local Mayors Explain Opposition to Senate Bill 5
The mayors who took part in We Are Ohio’s press conference think the bill won’t save cities money and will discourage people from pursuing public service.
Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr doesn’t believe that Senate bill 5 would save his city money, and he thinks that without its repeal, the city will lose the ability to attract highly qualified employees.
“It’s not just a monetary problem,” Starr said during a press conference in Middleburg Heights on Wednesday morning.
Starr and Berea’s mayor, Cyril Kleem, were at the conference in support of We Are Ohio, an anti-Senate bill 5 activist group that is campaigning against Issue 2. If Issue 2 passes, Senate bill 5 will go into effect, restricting what unions are able to discuss in negotiations. One of the benefits of the bill is that it is supposed to be a way for local governments to save money, but not everyone agrees.
Starr and Kleem are two of those local exceptions. Starr said that he thinks the bill would tilt power to local governments, and he wants to “keep it in balance.”
“After all, the process works best when everybody has the ability to have their voices heard. It is not only fair, but insures that our streets are safe, our children are provided a superb education and public employees remain accountable,” he said.
Starr and Kleem were the only mayors in attendance at Wednesday's conference, but according to We Are Ohio, nearly a dozen local mayors have come out against Senate bill 5. Six who weren’t at the press conference provided letters of support to We Are Ohio. That includes Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and Lakewood Mayor Michael P. Summers. Cleveland Heights provided a City Council resolution passed in March that explained its city’s opposition to the bill.
Starr said that he thinks the changes that would follow Senate bill 5’s enactment would lead to layoffs, cuts in benefits and, overall, fewer people wanting to go into public service. If a city wants highly qualified employees, it has to pay competitive wages and benefits, he said.
And the belief that those in public service don’t contribute to their benefits or pensions is mistaken, Starr said, adding that in his city, employees already pay 10 percent of pension costs.
“There is nothing reasonable about Senate bill 5. It takes away the rights and the voices of the hardworking Ohioans who serve loyally our state and local governments,” Starr said.