JobsOhio will need to find another way to speed its access to $100 million in liquor profis.
The Ohio Supreme Court today dismissed a petition filed by the nonprofit -- created by Gov. John Kasich to handle the state's economic development program -- that would have freed up the state's commerce director to transfer the funds. The court said JobsOhio's writ of mandamus action was the wrong legal procedure to enable the transfer of funds from the state to the nonprofit.
The court in a 4-2 decision said JobsOhio needs to find its remedy through the normal legal process, not in a direct appeal to the Supreme Court.
JobsOhio has been saddled with litigation since its outset, largely with questions of whether it is constitutional. Lower courts have said that suits brought by the left leaning group ProgressOhio have raised legitimate constitutional questions, but no court has said explicitly whether the operation is legal.
The Kasich administration sought to have the Supreme Court address the merits of the lawsuits and give it an up-or-down ruling so that it can know whether to move forward.
To seal the deal allowing JobsOhio to take over the liquor sales operation, JobsOhio's president Mark Kvamme, Ohio Budget Director Tim Keen and Goodman need to sign off on the agreement. But in a planned scenario, Goodman refused to sign, prompting Kvamme to file the mandamus action.
The court's ruling on today, however, means the administration remains in limbo over JobsOhio.
ProgressOhio Director Brian Rothenberg called the court's ruling a "self-inflicted wound" by the Kasich administration because he says the administration has previously argued his lawsuit had no standing in the lower courts, which is where the Supreme Court on Friday told the administration to go.
"There's a half-billion dollars slated to go to a private entity from state coffers and we still don't know if it's constitutional or not," Rothenberg said. "At some point a court has to determine if this is constitutional or not."