Democrats are hammering on the Governor’s public-private job creating entity as another law related to JobsOhio takes effect. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler has the latest.
The law taking effect this week bans the state auditor from reviewing the books of JobsOhio, and instead allows JobsOhio to appoint a private company to audit the organization.
Democratic Rep. John Carney of Columbus noted on the eve of the law’s effective date that the auditor could still rush an audit through – David Yost had said in June he intended to complete an audit of JobsOhio with documents he asked for via subpoena in March.
The auditor’s office says that audit is still being conducted, but there’s no word on when it might be complete.
Carney, who says he may challenge Yost for auditor next year, is among the House Democrats who’ve proposed legislation related to and called for investigations of JobsOhio. But Speaker Bill Batchelder says he has no plans to take up any JobsOhio measures when lawmakers return next month.
“In fact, we’re at a point where it’s getting kind of silly," Batchelder says.
"What are we, one year and eight months passed its passage and signature by the Governor? I got it through the House in 11 days. We’re creating jobs. Bottom line, and that’s what we’re about,” he says.
But Carney says there’s a lot of interest in what’s going on at JobsOhio, and the lack of transparency is concerning to many people.
“It’s not silly at all when you’re talking about $100 million annually out of the taxpayers’ pocket, and you’re talking about a lot of people who are still out of work, or who are making bare minimum wages, can’t pay their mortgage, can’t put food on the table, can’t get their kids through school," he says. "That’s not silly. That’s very serious.”
Over the weekend, JobsOhio’s top management announced it would hire a PR firm to try to deal with what the leaders suggest is a public image problem. Carney says taxpayer money shouldn’t be used this way, and that the best way to combat that image problem is to – in his words – “open the books”.