Kasich announced this week that he would be moving forward with plans to turn over the rights to over a billion dollars in Ohio liquor revenue to the privately operated development group JobsOhio. Bonds will be issued in the amount of $1.4 billion dollars, much of which will come back to the state, leaving JobsOhio with approximately $100 million to fund its operations.
Kasich needs JobsOhio up and running. He needs it funded. He needs it for his campaign.
The Governor’s team believes they can simply point people at a lower unemployment rate and point them at the fancy JobsOhio logo, and people will assume one caused the other.
Never mind that JobsOhio’s biggest deals were complete flops. Never mind that JobsOhio added extra layers to Ohio’s economic development system. Never mind that JobsOhio has been running on secret, private donations for months. Never mind that Kasich won’t release the secret ROI formula JobsOhio uses to calculate their “success”. Never mind JobsOhio has been slammed for running feel-good ads promoting Kasich throughout Ohio instead of doing ACTUAL economic development.
JobsOhio needs to APPEAR successful for it to be useful to Kasich’s reelection messaging strategy. So he’s going to do whatever it takes to push through this funding – even though the courts have still not ruled on whether it’s constitutional.
Brian Rothenberg, Executive Director of ProgressOhio has serious concerns about JobsOhio and its funding model. A lawsuit filed by his group still sits in the Ohio Supreme Court.
“Even the State of Ohio’s lawyers acknowledged in their briefs when JobsOhio sued the Ohio Department of Commerce that there are legitimate Constitutional concerns,” said Rothenberg. “Our legal team is examining all options. But given the murky Constitutionality of this it is buyer beware on the market.”
“Kasich,” says Rothenberg, “took an oath to uphold the State Constitution — not just the parts he likes.”
Here’s the other important reason Kasich needs this deal to go through: he gets a big chunk of one-time cash to help balance his next budget.
The JobsOhio bond deal puts $500 million into the General Revenue Fund for Kasich to spend any way he wants. That’s five times as much as JobsOhio is getting. And we’re fairly confident Kasich and his budget director Tim Keen already have this money allocated for other campaign-related spending, like an unnecessary income tax cut.
At the end of the day, the JobsOhio bond deal may be less about funding Development and more about getting Kasich some quick, one-time cash to help fund the projects he thinks will get him reelected.