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Published: Monday, 5/2/2011

Shabby treatment

GOV. John Kasich recently seemed to try to justify the new restrictions he seeks on public-sector workers by noting the "shabby benefits" that some private-sector workers get.

It's unclear whether the governor meant to suggest that teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees should also receive inadequate benefits. But it is odd that he chose the Ohio-based Bob Evans restaurant chain, which the state recently offered millions of dollars in incentives to stay put, as an example of a company that provides poorly for its workers.

An analysis by the liberal think tank Policy Matters Ohio explored what it might be costing taxpayers in state and federal public assistance to help Bob Evans employees scrape by. Using data provided by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, the group looked at how many Ohioans employed by Bob Evans relied on Medicaid in a recent month (4,797), or food aid (4,057), or the Ohio Works First program (249).

To estimate the amount of state and federal subsidies supplementing the meager budgets of these working Ohioans and their families, researchers averaged per-recipient, per-month program costs for 12 months. They calculated that annual taxpayer subsidies could total more than $20 million.

Does the governor believe that public- sector benefits should be brought into line with "shabby" private-sector benefits, so that some public employees might have to turn to the public dole as well?

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