Amendments to come changing JobsOhio budget language

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I’m sure the Kasich administration was not too thrilled with the article they found in the Dispatch Sunday morning questioning the necessity for the JobsOhio program. The basic arguments in this article I completely agree with, and I would direct you over to a post on Plunderbund that goes into more detail on it.  What really fascinated me were a couple of comments included in the article. First from House Finance Chairman Amstutz essentially saying flat out that the JobsOhio portion of the budget is absolutely going to change in the amendment process and then Senate Finance Chairman Widener agreeing with those statements.

“I can assure you it will not be passed through the House as is currently proposed, but it is a starting point we are trying to build on,” said Rep. Ron Amstutz, R-Wooster, chairman of the House Finance Committee

His sentiments were echoed by Republican Senate Finance Committee chair Chris Widener, R-Springfield.

It is no secret that Rep. Amstutz and Sen. Widener, and other promient Republican legislators, have expressed some reservations about the JobsOhio program. In fact, included in the article was a comment from Senator Grendal outlining exactly what he thought was problematic with the legislation.

Sen. Timothy J. Grendell, R-Chesterland, said that while he appreciates Kasich’s out-of-the-box thinking, the plan has major problems. He said it violates the Constitution’s prohibition against investing public money in private companies, lacks clarity on what should happen to the liquor revenue stream if JobsOhio fails, and has a price tag of $1.2billion that might be too low.

Senator Grendell doesn’t seem to be the only one who thinks this program might be unconstitutional; Senator Mike Skindell and State Representative Dennis Murphy are both plantives of a suit challenging the legality of JobsOhio that was filed today.

The second point of interest were details about upcoming legislation outlining how JobsOhio is to operate. Assistant Director of Development Kristi Tanner gave some insight into what to expect when the administration finally introduces this language.

She said JobsOhio would also be able to offer tax credits, but those credits would be based on job-creating measures that would not be awarded until after those measures were reached.

Another function Tanner mentioned is JobsOhio buying equity in companies.

“The state would be able to enjoy the financial upside of a successful new company,” she said.

She said the Department of Development would remain in some capacity and would deal with issues more related to community development.

In HB 1 it clearly states that JobsOhio is not an entity of the state. In fact, due to this, JobsOhio is exempt from following certain open meeting and public records laws that other state entities must.  Somehow though the administration still feels that it is ok to give JobsOhio the ability to offer tax credits that would directly impact the ability for the state to collect revenue.  This seems like a head scratcher for me. The administration wants JobsOhio to be a non-state entity but also to have the ability to act like a state entity.

It will be interesting to see how House Republican and Democrats respond to this possibly piece of legislation.  Now that more and more details are slowing coming out about how this organization would operate it is imperative that lawmakers take a long hard look at what powers would be moved from the Department of Development to JobsOhio. Hopefully those sort of policies would be discussed in the larger budget negotiations as well.



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