Once upon a time not long after John Kasich was elected governor of Ohio in 2010 and not long after his most recent visit to the Highland House Museum in Hillsboro, the powers that be in the General Assembly had neither the nerve nor fortitude to openly oppose “their governor.”

Aside from their kicks and groans over perhaps Kasich’s most controversial move as governor when he insisted on Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, state lawmakers basically toed the party line through most of Kasich’s two terms as governor.

But that was when “We’re all friends here” was the catchphrase of the once Grand Old Party. That was when they liked to invoke – wrongly, of course – the so-called 11th Commandment from former President Ronald Reagan. There was no such 11th Commandment. Even Reagan on occasion spoke ill of his fellow Republicans. And with just cause.

After seeing votes by Republican majorities in the Ohio House and Senate last week to override a few of Kasich’s vetoes – particularly Senate Bill 296, in which Republicans sneaked in a nice pay hike for themselves and many of their supporters across Ohio’s 88 counties, I’m left thinking of the words of former Cincinnati Reds third baseman Chris Sabo after the 1990 World Series: “We've got the rings. We've got the money. We've got everything.”

If the GOP majorities had just explained their nice personal Christmas presents at taxpayers’ expense in similar Sabo style, I’d at least have a small measure of respect for them.

Just say it. Tell the voters: “We've got the money. We’ve got the majority. We’ve got our shady salary spike. We've got everything.”

By God, I could almost respect that.

At least it’s better than the inevitable talking points that SB 296 (with the last-minute pay raises) was “just too doggone important not to pass.”

Or, the GOP could borrow from Baltimore Democrat Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi: “We have to pass SB 296 to know what’s in it.”

That would be priceless. But it would be something. It would be better than Ohio lawmakers ignoring questions about their votes. It would be better than last week’s lame offering by State Sen. Joe Uecker, who represents Adams County in Ohio’s 14th District. (For the record, I tend to agree with Sen. Uecker more often than not.)

However, in a low-profile, holiday season column submitted to The Highland County Press on Dec. 28, Uecker wrote: “This week, the Legislature once again took another look at legislation that was vetoed by the governor, but many believe should still be enacted into law. First, we were able to successfully override the governor's veto of House Bill 228, which makes important changes to shift the requirement for an individual to prove they are innocent in a self-defense situation to instead require the prosecution to prove them guilty – like every other state in the United States. Additionally, I regret that despite my vote to override the governor's veto of legislation to end abortions after there is a detectable heartbeat, the Senate was only able to come up with 19 votes, one short of a successful override.”

More than conveniently, Uecker did not mention SB 296 and the lame-duck pay raises for him and his fellow lawmakers and their pals in county government across Ohio. Oh, yes, Uecker did indeed vote to override Kasich’s veto of SB 296.

Thomas Suddes wrote in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer: “It took barely a split second for Ohio lawmakers to vote themselves a pay raise – while school funding reform has stalled for two decades. Five governors, seven House speakers and seven Senate presidents later, nobody with a straight face claims Ohio’s made the ‘complete systematic overhaul’ of public school funding Ohio’s Supreme Court ordered in 1997. The gist of the court’s thinking: Ohio over-relies on property taxes to finance K-12 schools. (If you’re a homeowner, maybe you’ve noticed.) But, hey, some things take time. Others things don’t – such as the Legislature’s whiplash-fast decision to give itself a pay raise. The intellectually honest thing to do would have been to pass a pay-raise bill before Nov. 6’s election, so voters could judge the raises. But if you were writing a guide to legislative politicking at the Statehouse, ‘intellectual’ and ‘honest’ aren’t the first words that’d come to mind.”

Thank you, Mr. Suddes, for so eloquently pointing out the obvious. Great column.

Maybe the Republican majority would like to explain their respective votes to override Kasich’s veto of the pay raises and also explain why taxpayers in all 88 counties will be paying more for government services. While they’re at it, maybe they can explain how these additional expenses will be funded in rural counties like Highland and Adams. Here’s a hint: If you work in the private sector, just take a look in the mirror.

(To their credit, Senators Dolan, Jordan, Peterson, Schiavoni, Tavares and Obhof voted in the negative.)

Mr. Suddes also points out: “Under Senate Bill 296, base pay for a General Assembly member would rise to $63,007 in 2019. Then, a legislator’s salary will annually increase: Base pay will peak at $76,208 in 2028. Almost all 132 state legislators (99 representatives, 33 senators) are paid more than base pay because of extra pay for chairing committees, etc. Those jobs (or are they leashes?) are controlled by the Senate president and House speaker (now each paid $94,437 a year). The pay-raise bill would also boost those extra-pay supplements for caucus officers and committee posts.”

And here’s another cha-ching for Ohio lawmakers. General Assembly members may enroll in the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and the state’s health insurance plan, with the state (i.e. taxpayers) paying 85 percent of the cost and the lawmaker paying just 15 percent. This was attributed to the Legislative Service Commission.

Unless they are morons, each and every member of the General Assembly knew what the job paid when they campaigned for it. If they didn’t know, their ignorance ought to preclude them from taking office.

Carry on.

* * *

Another veto override

On a different topic, let’s go back 66 years – back to our “Greatest Generation” – when the Democrats held the office of the presidency (Harry Truman), and majorities in the House (with Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas) and the Senate (with Senate President Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky).

With these majorities, Democrats passed the the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (the McCarran-Walter Act).

According to the federal government (https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/immigration-act), “The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 upheld the national origins quota system established by the Immigration Act of 1924. It also ended Asian exclusion from immigrating to the United States and introduced a system of preferences based on skill sets and family reunification.

“At the basis of the act was the continuation and codification of the National Origins Quota System. It revised the 1924 system to allow for national quotas at a rate of one-sixth of one percent of each nationality’s population in the United States in 1920. As a result, 85 percent of the 154,277 visas available annually were allotted to individuals of northern and western European lineage. The Act continued the practice of not including countries in the Western Hemisphere in the quota system, though it did introduce new length of residency requirements to qualify for quota-free entry.”

President Truman was concerned about the decisions to maintain the national origins quota system and to establish racially constructed quotas for Asian nations. He thought the new law was discriminatory, so he vetoed it. The law had enough support in Congress to override Truman’s veto.

Without passing judgment on this Democrat-led legislation from America’s “Greatest Generation,” I find it interesting to witness just how far removed the nation is from any semblance of an immigration policy as we enter 2019.

As I’ve written before, just 12 short years ago, liberal (if “liberal” offends one of my truck-driving Democrat friends, let’s just say “wrong”) Democrat Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer all voted in favor of border security. Today, all oppose it. It’s as if they accidentally voted with some intelligence in 2006 and have regretted it since.

Meanwhile, reports are that a new caravan of border-crashers is headed toward the U.S. from Central America. To their credit, maybe we should applaud them for choosing the capitalistic U.S. over the socialist Venezuela.

Happy New Year.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.