House Speaker William G. Batchelder called it a day to end three decades of no changes to collective bargaining in Ohio, which have led to "expensive, overly restrictive union contracts which are simply unsustainable."

"This state cannot pay what we've been paying in the past," the Medina Republican told reporters prior to today's House session. "Local governments and taxpayers need control over their budgets. This bill will give control back to the people who pay the bill."

After heavy debate, the House this afternoon is expected to approve Senate Bill 5, which would weaken collective bargaining power for about 360,000 public workers, including safety forces, teachers, school cooks, and corrections officers. If things go relatively smoothly in the House, the Senate may give the bill final concurrence this evening, sending it to Gov. John Kasich.

House Republican leaders also are gearing up for an expected statewide ballot campaign, where Democrats and union supporters will ask voters to overturn the law, which they say is an attack on middle-class families.

The bill also would require public workers to pay at least 15 percent of health insurance costs which would impact many local workers; limit the types of issues that could be bargained, taking away items such as staffing levels and building assignments; no longer make longevity the key factor when determining layoffs; and allow the governing body to pick its own last offer to settle a negotiation impasse.

 "Would you rather have no job or a pay cut of 4 percent? That's basically what we're telling public employees. Congratulations, you've done a great job since (collective bargaining) was enacted 27 years ago, but the party's over. We can't afford it anymore."  

Jim Siegel The Columbus Dispatch