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Democratic lawmakers push "Ohio Jobs Guarantee" to make job creation efforts accountable to policymakers, taxpayers

As Ohio job creation stumbles during Kasich's tenure, lawmakers look for answers
March 31, 2016
Kent Smith News

State Reps. Greta Johnson (D–Akron) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today announced the introduction of the “Ohio Jobs Guarantee” to ensure policymakers and the public have full access to information necessary to evaluate job creation efforts in Ohio. The bill would allow the Auditor to conduct full audits of JobsOhio and require that JobsOhio submit a quarterly progress report detailing all of its active projects. The bill’s introduction comes amidst news that two of Gov. Kasich’s presidential campaign mega-donors were recommended by JobsOhio for tax incentives that will cost Ohioans close to $1 million.

“JobsOhio’s finances, operations and practices should be open to oversight, examination and review,” said Smith. “The 2014 JobsOhio Annual Report stated that two of the six regional JobsOhio organizations underwent reorganization that they hoped would strengthen their economic development capabilities in 2015. Which two? Why did they reorganize? Did it get better? Did it get worse? Did we learn anything that we could apply to the rest of the state to better grow Ohio paychecks? The answer to all of those questions is … we don’t know, because JobsOhio doesn’t have to tell us anything. That’s bad economic policy and it’s just plain wrong.”

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 400,000 private sectors jobs have been created in Ohio since the inception of JobsOhio. That private sector job growth rate, 9.3%, ranks 22nd in the country, trailing behind Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. JobsOhio’s job tally of 5.3 million total jobs in 2015 is still 300,000 under the number of jobs in the state in 2000. And, Ohio households earn less pay than the national average as well.

“When my constituents come to me asking why better jobs aren’t coming to Summit County, or how their tax dollars are being used to boost our economy, I don’t have a good answer for them,” said Johnson. “This is because a ‘private’ entity is making those decisions behind closed doors. From the direction of Governor 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. It is time to guarantee Ohioans a good return for their investment.”

The introduction of the “Ohio Jobs Guarantee” comes just weeks after JobsOhio announced a 38 percent raise for President and CEO John Minor, among other executive-level raises.

Republican State Auditor Dave Yost has requested the right to audit JobsOhio in the past, but received opposition from Governor Kasich and the entity itself. Gov. Kasich and GOP lawmakers privatized job creation efforts in 2011, promising a transformation of Ohio’s economy.