Gov. Kasich's proposal to privatize the state's job creating agency is a step closer to reality. But as Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports, the vote in the Ohio House ended with a party line vote and lots of partisan debate.
According to its supporters, House Bill 1 would create the non-profit public private partnership JobsOhio to assist the Department of Development with job creation and retention. Republican Mike Duffey of the Columbus suburb of Worthington says it does not abolish the Department of Development, but creates a framework for future changes.
Unlike a government agency, a private economic development corporation can respond to changing markets and partner with the private sector. This in turn increases the likelihood of job creation and retention in our state.”
But Democrats raised a lot of concerns about the speed at which the measure has moved. Ron Gerberry of Youngstown said it took three days to steamroll the bill through the process, and that’s not enough time to consider what he calls an unproven, non transparent model.
“Don’t kid yourself. By just saying “Ohio is open for business” or “get on the bus and if you’re not on the bus we’ll run you over and I’m not kidding”, that may make a really good quote for the press, but well thought out and deliberated public policy is not quite that easy.”
Those quotes are from Gov. Kasich, and it was clear he was a big part of the three hour debate. Republican Matt Huffman from Lima said the bill needs to move – as the governor has also said – at the speed of business.
“Now you may argue whether you think it’s going to work or not, but man, 400,000 jobs lost in the last few years. And where the jobs are going I guess we can all argue about that, but if anything needs to move fast, it’s this bill.”
But longtime Democratic lawmaker Bob Hagan of Youngstown said he’s suspicious when business moves quickly.
“In my 25 years down here, I’ve never seen corporations move particularly fast unless there was a huge profit to be made on the backs of American workers.”
Democrats also raised concerns about transparency for JobsOhioHe blasted Republicans for backing a proposal they would have rejected from a Democratic governor, and he says this one hands a billion dollars to Gov. Kasich, with little accountability and transparency - and just the promise of “trust me”.
“Being governor requires answering to the taxpayers of Ohio. This bill makes it clear that John Kasich doesn’t want to be governor – he wants to be king.”
But Republicans jabbed back, saying a lot of information will be public, including employee compensation, expenditures and the board’s four annual meetings. And Republican Danny Bubp of southwest Ohio – a retired Marine colonel - said he considered Kasich the general of the state.
“In the military, we say either lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way. This governor is leading.”
The House voted 59 to 37 for the bill, and it moves on to the Senate.