OFT members testify against SB5 attacks on collective bargaining

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OFT’s higher education members responded firmly this week to address last-minute House Finance Committee amendments to the state budget to reduce sick leave, alter post tenure review and require financial discloses for faculty members who publish books.

OFT members Michael Smithback, from the Terra Faculty Association, Local 4719, Erin Susick, president of the Belmont College Faculty Association, Local 6571, and Paul Adams, president of the Owens Faculty Association, Local 4670, and OFT provided testimony to the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education.

According to Hannah News, Smithback outlined tenure requirements and benefits for both professors and students. Determining how professors best spend their time is better left to them and their institutions, he said. Regarding proposed financial disclosure requirements, Smithback also said that professors receive a small percentage of the publisher’s price in royalties and that one professor he knows receives less than she would have to spend on the disclosure filing fee.
He also said the reduction in sick leave, from 4.6 hours to 3.1 for every 80 hours worked, would have no impact on the cost of higher education but could massively impact professors should an unfortunate event occur, especially early in their career.
Susick, Adams and OFT offered written testimony.

John McNay, president of the Ohio Conference American Association of University Professors, also testified.
According to Hannah News, McNay said that the budget’s current form would increase student cost and layers of bureaucracy, and tell professors that Ohio does not value unfettered scholarship. He said that tenure benefits students and does not have state dollars directly tied to it as compensation comes from qualifications, promotions, merit and negotiated increases.
Tenure is also not guaranteed, he said, and he also opposed the reduction in sick leave. McNay said professors don’t assign textbooks for their gain or that of their friends, and that the disclosure requirement is “a solution in search of a problem” and would not address textbook affordability. He also said the State Share of Instruction (SSI) and Ohio College Opportunity Grant should be increased so that tuition does not need to be raised.

Senate Primary and Secondary Subcommittee

The Senate Primary and Secondary Subcommittee has heard testimony about the need to fix the school funding formula because smaller districts are going to be hurt by fewer Tangible Personal Property Tax dollars and the loss of guarantee funds. It is expected that the Senate will attempt to change the formulas for growth districts and add those funds to the formula to  create a scenario where districts are held “harmless” or don’t have a reduction in funding like the more than 300 districts face in the current proposal.

See the Hannah hearing summary.
Senate Budget Timeline

Week of May 29 - Subcommittee chairs report to finance committee

May 31 - amendment deadline

June 15 - Sub bill with omnibus amendment deadline

June 19-20 - Committee vote

June 21 - Senate floor vote