The quasi-governmental development agency JobsOhio was created by Governor John Kasich. It is poised issue bonds that would be financed by a lease of the state's wholesale liquor profits. These bonds would provide a funding stream for JobsOhio's job creation efforts, but questions about whether it's legal and whether it's a good idea, still remain.
With the possible sale of the JobsOhio bonds coming this week, now is a good time to revisit Columbus on the Record's panel on the topic:
Brian Rothenberg, the executive director of ProgressOhio, kicked off the discussion by highlighting his concerns, "I think it is irresponsible. No court has ever ruled on the constitutionality of the program."
"If the bond people buy the bonds, that's the best sign that they think it's legal and appropriate," responded Republican strategist Terry Casey and challenged Rothenberg's motives. "I don't mean to be disrespectful but a lot of times groups on the other side like to file law suits to raise money."
"What other side? We have the 1851 Law Society, a Libertarian group that have joined with me," retored Rothenberg. "There are legitimate constitutional questions."
Joe Hallett, the senior editor of Columbus Dispatch weighed in on the secrecy inherent in JobsOhio, "I've been around that Statehouse for 30 years and covered one pay-to-play scandal after another. This just looks ripe for that kind of thing."
The discussion continued and Rothenberg more fully explained his objections, "I'm all for jobs but I'm also for following the Constitution. This is $100,000 million of the public's money going to a private agency without anybody knowing what's going to happen with it. Our Constitution says that you can't do these type of things."
"You don't wear a robe and you're not on the Supreme Court," challenged Casey. "And, in fact, historically courts give the benefit of the doubt to the legislature to create laws."
The panel discussion concluded with ProgressOhio's Rothenberg musing, "The irony of all this is that if the attorney general and the administration had never decided to argue the standing issue or whether anyone had the right to sue, we would already know whether this is constitutional or not."