From The Columbus Dispatch Democrats are making another run at reforming JobsOhio.
A pair of House Democrats today introduced a bill to bring more transparency to the operations of Republican Gov. John Kasich’s privatized economic development agency.
The “Ohio Jobs Guarantee” from Reps. Greta Johnson, of Akron, and Kent Smith, of Euclid, would authorize the state auditor to go over JobsOhio’s books and require the nonprofit to release more-detailed quarterly reports on job projects underwritten by grants and loans.
The replacement for the public Department of Development was exempted from public-records laws when it was created and Auditor Dave Yost, after auditing JobsOhio once, was barred by Republican lawmakers from examining its financials.
JobsOhio, which makes its cash from a long-term lease of the state’s liquor-sales operation, should be open to public examination and oversight, the lawmakers said. “JobsOhio doesn’t have to tell us anything. That’s bad economic policy and it’s just plain wrong,” Smith said in a statement.
JobsOhio reported bringing in a record number of jobs last year ( and awarding CEO John Minor Jr. a 38-percent raise to $455,000), but Democrats contend the number could be higher and better-paying.
“This is because a ‘private’ entity is making those decisions behind closed doors. From the direction of Gov. Kasich, the state legislature decided at its inception that JobsOhio should not be held accountable to our state’s taxpaying citizens. The time to correct this wrongdoing is long overdue,” Johnson said.
Kasich spokesman Joe Andrews held little back in response to the legislation, saying the governor was proud of JobsOhio and its record that has helped create more than 417,000 jobs during Kasich's tenure.
"While it’s clear these lawmakers want to play politics with improvements they can’t take credit for, they obviously have very short memories, forgetting that it was their party’s leaders who drove Ohio over the cliff and lost 350,000 jobs. They have little room to criticize the tools Ohio has used to undo their damage," Andrews said.
JobsOhio spokesman Nicholas D'Angelo said: "JobsOhio’s finances, operations and practices are subject to rigorous oversight and review processes and JobsOhio is among the most transparent private companies in Ohio. JobsOhio is subject to an annual financial audit, which is completed by a nationally recognized accounting firm." The nonprofit also releases quarterly data and reports to the public, he said.