There it is, in plain sight, for all to see as 2017 starts.
After six years of doing precious little to propel Ohio to the promised peak of job-creating states, JobsOhio remains both unproductive and likely unconstitutional, even though it has a funding stream backed by taxpayer dollars that give it billions to dole out to companies willing to establish a presence in our slipping state.
On its website JobsOhio describes itself as “a private non-profit corporation designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio through business attraction, retention, and expansion efforts.” Created by a compliant Republican-controlled legislature at the behest of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, JobsOhio has performed about as well as a one-handed juggler juggling three objects at the same time, as the state’s inability to meet or exceed the national job creation average for 47 of the last 48 months demonstrates too clearly, even for those suffering from hard of thinking.
Each justice on the Ohio Supreme Court should take note that Gov. Kasich’s private version of what Ohio used to do for decades through a transparent public agency would likely be ruled unconstitutional if justices actually had to rule on it. Early on the court had a chance to do just that, but to save Gov. Kasich tremendous embarrassment as he prepared to run for president, they obliged the state’s petulant leader by tossing a case that challenged its constitutionality, using the legally convenient but cowardly excuse that plaintiffs didn’t “have standing” to bring the lawsuit.
But for that legal speed bump, JobsOhio should have been declared unconstitutional soon after the legislature created it. Yet it remains in plain sight, evading prying public eyes by using tailor-made rules that exempt it from opening its books and operations to taxpayers. Meanwhile, taxes on alcohol consumption by those same taxpayers are used to pay back the bonds Kasich’s hand-picked acolytes sold, giving JobsOhio tremendous wealth that was supposed to help create jobs for the many Ohioans who need one.
As media reports on Kasich’s claim of recession coming without assigning blame to him for his regressive tax policies or to JobsOhio for not delivering as it promised to do, the strange circumstance surrounding its operation in the face of a state constitution that would otherwise declare it unconstitutional is perplexing at best and disgraceful at worst.
As candidates line up to showcase themselves as fit to be Ohio’s next governor in two years, a question to ask each of them would be whether they think JobsOhio is or isn’t constitutional? If they think it is, that would reveal a lot about their understanding of Ohio’s constitution. If they don’t, what will they do to cease an illegal group if elected?
If the Ohio Supreme Court can stand around for years and watch an entity each justice knows runs afoul of the constitution, a document each swore to uphold and defend, is Ohio really a state of laws? If lack of standing was their excuse to not confront the issue for fear it would crash Mr. Kasich improbable dream of being elected president, does the fact that his dream is now spoiled forever alter the landscape of their thinking on matters of constitutional law?