Gov. John Kasich has vetoed a bill, SB296, that would’ve increased the paychecks of state and local government officials starting next year. However, lawmakers were criticized for attaching the pay raise to a widely supported, bipartisan bill to increase death benefits to families of first responders who were killed in the line of duty.
Kasich says the original intent of the bill was “praiseworthy,” adding that he would’ve signed that measure into law.
What Kasich could not condone or support, as he laid out in his veto message, was the “last-minute rush to include a controversial pay raise for elected officials into what was an otherwise commendable bill.”
Supporters of the pay increase say elected officials haven’t had a raise in years and argue that it was a modest increase.
House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) said it made sense to add the pay increase as an amendment to the families of first responders bill because the legislation was about benefits.
“This is not some exotic thing that we’re going off the rails on we’re talking about modest increases for local government officials who work hard every day and everybody else, it’s not outlandish by any means,” Smith said.
The bill would increase wages by 11% over the course of three years. A senator and representative, not in a leadership role, would go from making $60,584 to $67,493 in 2021.
Several legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, voiced their opposition to the amendment.
“It’s disgusting to use families of law enforcement killed in the line of duty as a vehicle for pay raises,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown).
Kasich urges lawmakers to come back next year and pass a new measure for the families of law enforcement and firefighters.
The House and Senate have hinted at a possible vote to override Kasich’s veto.