WASHINGTON -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) have decided to pay tribute to state workers.
In Ohio, Kasich declared this week "Public Service Appreciation Week" on Monday. The same day, Walker announced a new public employee "recognition" program in Wisconsin. Given their high-profile battles with unions and state employees, plenty of people in the two states are wondering whether the olive branches are some kind of joke.
When "honoring Ohio's thousands of public employees," Kasich asked his fellow Ohioans to "reflect on all that our public employees do in our communities, and thank them for the invaluable work they do each day." During his first four months in office, Kasich has made rolling back the collective bargaining rights of public workers a centerpiece of his administration's agenda.
In response to the declaration, Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D) said in a statement that he had to "check my calendar" to make sure it wasn't April Fool's Day. He continued: "Do you thank teachers and firefighters for the invaluable work before or after you slash their wages and benefits?"
In Wisconsin, Walker's kind words for state workers have prompted similar head shakes. In addition to declaring yesterday "State Employee Recognition Day," the governor's office recently uploaded a little-watched video to YouTube where he said "thank you to the thousands of men and women who work as public servants" and asked citizens to nominate outstanding public workers for recognition. Like Kasich, Walker has moved to take away collective bargaining rights for many public employees.
Viewers of Walker's video have been assailing the governor as a "hypocrite" in the comments section, and, as of this writing, the video has 9 "likes" and 86 "dislikes." Even so, a Walker spokesperson told the Wisconsin State-Journal that roughly 50 "serious nominations" had already been submitted as of Tuesday. The Wisconsin Capital Times reports that today a group of state employees are rallying outside the Capitol to instead recognize "State Employee Depreciation Day."