Pay raise in bill begs veto

Ohioans upset about the swamp that is the federal government may want to clean up Columbus before moving on to Washington. There’s a stink at the Ohio Statehouse, too.

Last week, both houses of the General Assembly approved a bill with the ostensible purpose of increasing death benefits for police officers and survivors of deceased firefighters. Who could vote against such a praiseworthy bill?

Well, 20 members of the state House of Representatives and five members of the state Senate did. They were overwhelmed by 68 representatives and 26 senators, however.

Why was the bill objectionable to a few lawmakers? Because, tacked onto it at the last minute was a measure increasing salaries paid to legislators, some executive branch members and a variety of county-level officeholders.

Perhaps some of them deserve better paychecks. It has been 10 years since legislators received a raise.

That isn’t the point, of course. It is that pay raises for public officials ought to be considered on their own merits (or lack thereof). Instead, Buckeye State lawmakers chose to attach the salary increases to another bill — one that has wide appeal.

It is a process known as piggybacking, and it is as old as the hills. That does not make it right.

Let us hope Gov. John Kasich does the right thing and vetoes the bill. He seems inclined to do so.

“It would be one thing if they did it in the light of day,” he commented last week, “but it’s another thing if you do it and just kind of sneak it through. I don’t think people like that.”

Indeed they do not. But legislators at all levels have gotten away with it so many times that many now think themselves immune from retribution for their swamp-creature tactics.

Kasich should veto the bill. Then, legislators should back up and pass the measure intended to help police officers and firefighters and their families — making it a clean bill the second time around.

Quite a few political analysts seemed shocked when Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. It should have come as no surprise. The president’s talk about cleaning up the swamp resonates deeply with many Americans, because they see the muck and smell the stink all around them.

As Exhibit A of that, we offer the Ohio pay raise episode.

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