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Ohio Voters Disapprove of Bargaining Limit, Kasich’s Job

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March 23 (Bloomberg) -- A majority of Ohio voters oppose a bill to restrict collective bargaining by government employees and disapprove of Governor John Kasich’s job performance, a Quinnipiac University poll showed.

Forty-six percent of voters fault the job Kasich’s doing, to 30 percent who approve, while 53 percent said his budget proposal with spending reductions and no tax increases was unfair, according to the results released today.

“John Kasich’s name ought to be ‘John Mud’ these days,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, said at a press conference in Columbus today.

Kasich has gotten off to a rocky start with voters, which isn’t surprising given the spending cuts in his biennial budget proposal released March 15 and controversy regarding his support of the collective-bargaining bill, Brown said.

The key for Kasich will be what voters think about his policies a year from now, Brown said. He pointed to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was elected in 2009 and battled public-worker unions while closing a $10.7 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. Christie’s approval rating increased to 52 percent in a Quinnipiac poll released on Feb. 9., from 44 percent in a poll last June.

‘Comfort’ From Christie

“He could look at what’s happened to Chris Christie in New Jersey and rationally see that as some comfort and something that he hopes to emulate in terms of public opinion,” Brown said.

Kasich, a 58-year-old Republican who took office in January, proposed a two-year, $55.5 billion budget that calls for selling five prisons and reducing funds for 44 of 59 agencies. He also backs a bill that would restrict the use of union negotiating by state workers. In Wisconsin, a law curbing most collective-bargaining rights for state workers sparked weeks of protest.

Ohio voters disagree with limits on state worker contracts when asked about “collective-bargaining rights,” 54 percent to 35 percent. When the question was rephrased to just “collective bargaining,” the margin was 48 percent to 41 percent, according to the poll released today.

Bargaining Limits

The Ohio Legislature is considering a bill backed by Kasich that would allow public employees to bargain only for wages, hours and working conditions. It also would eliminate binding arbitration, prohibit strikes by public workers and set minimums for employee pension and health-care contributions.

The Senate approved the bill March 2 by a vote of 17-16, and the House plans to vote on the measure before April 5, House Speaker William Batchelder told reporters yesterday. Republicans control both the Ohio House and Senate.

When offered a choice of balancing the budget with spending cuts alone, or by raising taxes so there would be fewer reductions, 65 percent opt for cuts exclusively, the poll said.

Ohio voters oppose Kasich’s plan to sell five state prisons to private companies, 46 percent to 39 percent, according to the poll.

The Quinnipiac Poll of 1,384 registered voters was conducted March 15-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Niquette in Washington at mniquette@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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