COLUMBUS - Citing the need to have the cloud of constitutionality decided, ProgressOhio, State Rep. Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) and State Senator Michael Skindell appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court over JobsOhio.
Governor John Kasich's controversial privatization of job development in Ohio was dismissed in both the trial court and on appeal over the issue of standing, that is, where anyone had the right to challenge the State's actions. To date no Ohio Court has actually addressed the Ohio Constitutional provisions which prevent state funds to be used in a private corporation and restrict the use of the State's credit to support the sale of private bonds.
"It is our hope that the Ohio Supreme Court will recognize that citizens should have the right to challenge their government's unconstitutional actions," said Brian Rothenberg, Executive Director of ProgressOhio. "What more compelling standing can citizens have than to simply ask a court to rule on potentially unconstitutional actions. Otherwise, the Constitution of Ohio is essentially defenseless."
The action before the Ohio Supreme Court could have implications beyond the JobsOhio case. Earlier this year the Ohio Roundtable a conservative group had a lawsuit dismissed over Racino's and the interpretation that the Ohio Lottery Commission permissively allowed these forms of gambling.
"We believe that this issue of standing transcends ideology or partisan politics," said Rothenberg. "A Court needs to fundamentally rule on JobsOhio and lift the cloud of constitutional uncertainty over this legislation."
"The original JobsOhio legislation requires that the State make a phony paper transfer of over a billion dollars of the State's wholesale liquor sales business to JobsOhio. This constitutionally prohibited corporation will then violate the Constitution again by selling bonds supported by a lien on State assets", said Representative Murray. "That will make these revenues which have been part of the state budget for decades off limits for education or anything else and essentially leaves the money to be spent by a private corporation with minimal transparency."
The JobsOhio lawsuit has faced a complex route. The original legislation required any challenge to be made within 60 days and then only in the Ohio Supreme Court. Plaintiffs objected to both of those provisions and seven other items in the Bill. The Ohio Supreme Court then agreed with the Plaintiffs dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction allowing Plaintiffs to file their case in trial court. Neither the trial court nor appellate court ruled on the merits of the case but instead dismissed on the standing issue.
Of the original nine provisions in the Plaintiffs original lawsuit, the courts or the legislature later reversed positions on all but one issue. However the remaining issue pertains to a constitutional protection dating back to the 1840s that prohibits Ohio from using public monies in private corporations and using the State's credit to sell private bonds.