Seriously, I was treated respectfully at today’s House Finance & Appropriation Committee, and I was honored that I was given an opportunity to testify against Sub. H. B. 1 today. Franklin County GOP Chairman Doug Priesse even came up to talk to me and complimented me on my presentation (he also made it clear he disagrees with everything I said.) Still, very classy.
Still, today the House Finance and Appropriation Committee appropriated $1 million of your tax dollars after hearing from nobody but Kasich’s Development Director, OBM Director, and me. That’s it.
I had no illusions that anything I said would make a difference, or that the outcome was anything other than predetermined. Despite being told that three of the top five states with the highest unemployment are States with a JobsOhio-type structure, the Republicans marched in lock step in recommending approval of a bill that had half a day’s of testimony… all of which, except for mine today came from the Administration.
BTW, I like Kvamme. I like his energy and optimism. Its infectious. He’s like the smiling “comedy” mask to counter Kasich’s dour, “drama” one. But we’re told, repeatedly, that we need all the secrecy to get companies to talk to us (even though there’s not been one example by proponents of a deal being undone by public records laws), and yet HB 1 specifically removes all directors, executives, and employees of HB 1 from being criminally charged for revealing confidential information. Nobody has addressed that issue. Kvamme seems to be a nice guy, but he also seems completely under water with little or no real sense what he’s talking about.
Remember that little fuss the Republicans had when the federal government took an equitable interest in GM to secure against the money it used to bail it out? Remember how this meant Obama was a Communist/Socialist? Well, at least the intent there was that eventually the government would sell its stake.
Today, Director Kvamme testified to two things that I find stunning and is getting virtually no attention in the media. First, Kvamme seemed to have testified that private businesses who providing funding to JobsOhio will acquire equity (i.e.- become a shareholder) in JobsOhio, Inc. Think about that.
Then, he said JobsOhio could become “self funding” by taking an equity interest in every company it assists. This, I argued and I cited a Capital Law professor who agrees, would violate Ohio’s Constitution. Yet, simply by Kvamme’s assertion that this could make it self-funding within 5-7 years (although he also admitted no State has done this), a committee Republican applauded this as a way to save the State money. Our equity interest is permanent until JobsOhio decides to sell it shares.
The adds a whole new layer to the economic development calculus nobody had publicly considered. Will this force JobsOhio to only provide companies that can provide the quickest return on investments and pay big dividends? Also, say we help Honda in Marysville, and then Toyota announces they’re looking to build their manufacturing to push down Honda’s market share and want to consider Ohio? Now JobsOhio has to choose between their corporate fiduciary duty to maximize the return on their “investments” and their mission of job creation and recruitment? How will JobsOhio vote at shareholding meetings if proposals to outsource Ohio jobs is put to a shareholder vote? Regardless, JobsOhio will be a private, yet government-controlled central authority to acquire ownership of businesses and plan them. It’s almost like Chinese communism.
There has been no discussion of these issues, nor a single person who has address the obvious constitutional issues mentioned above. And Kvamme didn’t say anything that gave me any confidence he’s considered this issues to during his weekly commute from California, which last year ended its seven-year experiment with a JobsOhio-type program after concluding it was grossly ineffective.
The sheer concentration of power for the Governor at the expense of the legislature is breathtaking. Public record laws dictated by private contracts signed between the Governor’s political appointees subject (pending a floor amendment) to only Controlling Board review. The Senate will have no right to exercise any advise and consent confirmation powers to the appointments the Governor will make the Board.
A significant chunk of the hearing today centered around whether the Auditor may audit the use of public funds by JobsOhio or he must do so (the answer, according to the lawyers at the Legislative Service Commission was “may.”)
And yet, the full House of Representatives is scheduled to hold a final floor vote on Tuesday in which the proponents will likely talk about the nearly three days of committee hearings this bill has received as to imply it is fully vetted (even though both committees tabled Democratic amendments saying they needed further consideration later.)
JobsOhio will costs more than the 3C. It contains thornier and more broader policy issues than a simple train. It also has less planning than the 3C. So why is it getting less scrutiny?
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