Posts Tagged ‘JobsOhio’

Stormy Weather

December 9, 2016

Flying under the radar this week was the Ohio Governor’s speech on the floor of the Ohio House 12-6-16. According to Cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer (John Kasich warns Ohio ‘on the verge of a recession’ 12-7-16) the former presidential wannabe “warned lawmakers Tuesday that Ohio is “on the verge of a recession” as state tax revenues continue to fall short of expectations.” “So far this year, the state has collected $259 million, or 2.8 percent, less in taxes than expected, according to preliminary data released by the Office of Management and Budget. In particular, state income is $153 million less than projected for the year and sales tax revenue is $109 million less.” Jeremy Pelzer prognosticates pithily: “In the past, Kasich has talked about the so-called “Ohio miracle,” touting the state’s economic resurgence along with tax cuts and building up a “rainy-day fund” of more than $2 billion – several times the projected shortfall this year – to draw upon during tough economic times. The governor has helped stock the rainy-day fund by slashing state funding for local governments across Ohio, forcing many cities and towns to raise taxes or cut services.” Analysis gleans that Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s poker face is beginning to show (see previous posts). But not showing this week was the news of JobsOhio Picks Up the $17M Cost for Prepping OH Cracker Site (Marcellus Drilling News 12-7-16). From that article (in the industry’s own words): “Clearing the site, which once hosted the R.E. Burger coal-fired power plant, was no small task. The power plant site, owned and (until 2011) operated by FirstEnergy cost $14 million for demolition, remediation and general cleaning up. An adjacent site (not owned by FirstEnergy) cost another $3 million to tidy up. All told it took $17 million to clean up the site and get it ready to begin construction. FirstEnergy is reported to have said they were “excited” by the opportunity to spend $14 million to clean it up. Wait, what? They wanted to spend the money? Well actually, no, they didn’t. FirstEnergy spent the money to clean up the site because they have been/are being reimbursed for the cost by JobsOhio” “What is JobsOhio and where does it get all this money? Glad you asked! JobsOhio is a private, non-profit with a board appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, which gets most of its operating revenue from taxes on liquor sales in Ohio. So raise a glass to the cracker, Ohioans. Your imbibing is helping to build it…” Back to Pelzer: “”There’s not going to be a lot of growth in any [state] program,” Kasich told reporters at the time. “It’s going to be tight. There’s not going to be an ability to give significant percentage increases.”” Gee Toto, I don’t think we’re in Oz anymore, just back in Kansas.

Advertisements

Wily Coyote And The Road Runner

June 18, 2014

Scott Walker and John Kasich both ran as the Republican Party’s candidate for governor in their respective states, Wisconsin and Ohio, in 2010. Both won by narrow margins. Both are governors of states in which their party also maintains the majority in the legislature. Both utilized this dominance to revamp their state’s economic situation through revisions to their state budgets. Out of the box, both made cuts to their budgets that involved how education, municipalities, public health services, infrastructure, etc. was funded. Both attempted to “rein in” public unions – Walker successfully retaining his grasp under duress, Kasich letting go without leaving any fingerprint. The similarities continue (for other reasons too involved for the limited capacity of Analysis), but ended with Walker’s successful (and historic) recall election defense. Today, both are running for re-election – Walker in a cliff hanger, Kasich quickly dusting his opponent. Apart from being fierce Big Ten rivals, the two states are remarkably alike, usually being lumped in with the category of “rust belt” or Midwest states. Today, their economies are likewise quite comparable in terms of unemployment levels, education capacity, legislature make up, voting demographics, etc. According to Scott Bauer of the AP (“Wisconsin’s Walker dogged by a promise not kept” 6-17-14) the anvil that dropped on Scott Walker’s current campaign fell in 2010 – “”I want my Cabinet secretaries to have branded across their heads, ‘250,000 jobs,'” Walker said at a December 2010 meeting of the Dairy Business Association. “I want them to know their job is on the line because my job is on the line to create 250,000 jobs in the private sector.”” To date current accounts given show only 101,000. “Walker has cited his own reasons, including uncertainty caused by his recall, concerns about the federal health care law and the sluggish national recovery.” In 2010 John the governator (to be) relied on the speed of the cavalry (“hold on, the cavalry’s on its way”), much as someone would say “the sun will rise again” at 4 in the morning. In 2010, his former associates on Wall Street noticed the trend was turning, the worst was over, and there was only one way to go and that was up (which is where the stock market currently has been in continuous record breaking territory). Aside from the difference regarding public employees, Kasich utilized his party’s virtual dominance in the legislature and state’s supreme court to implement something much more effective — JobsOhio. With jobs creation in the hands of a “public private” enterprise, John the governator raced away from the pitfall that has ensnared his Wisconsin counterpart. With JobsOhio being a private entity operating at the speed of business and sworn to secrecy, with an imprimatur provided by the dominant party’s legislature and affirmed by the party’s justices, catching a glimpse of the actuality of Ohio’s employment situation is highly unlikely. The speed of business is just too fast (high speed electronic trading and all). Bauer ends his article with this assessment: “Working with a compliant Republican Legislature, he has cut taxes by nearly $2 billion, saying the lighter burden would help both businesses and consumers. He also eased environmental regulations and made it more difficult to sue businesses. Although governors often pledge to improve the economy, other factors carry much more weight. “There’s no credible evidence that anything state governments do intentionally to create jobs actually work,” said McGee [UW Oshkosh economics professor Kevin McGee].” With JobsOhio operating at “the speed of business”, how are we ever to know?

Voter Information Guide

November 2, 2013

            This time of year newspaper editorials urge voters to be informed. Newark is no different. After running extensive articles on the various races, sides and issues, The Newark Advocate does just that; a thankless job. Two priorities stand out in the upcoming election – school funding and Newark City Council representation. Reasons giving for the various new or renewal school funding levies usually come down to cuts in state funding, changes to tax base, etc. Most of the districts have already implemented austerity measures on top of austerity measures and now must rely on the voters continued support. With the council representation, themes emerge, sound bytes, talking points. They may be block watch programs, police and fire protection, neighborhood revitalization, etc. All are pretty general. All are subsumed within the overriding consensus topic of jobs and economy. In that there is no partisan division.

 

            The Toledo Blade recently did an excellent job of reporting on the State of Ohio’s policies, practices and outcomes regarding jobs, jobs creation and the economics involved (loans, grants, tax credits, etc.). These speak directly to what the council candidates only spoke of in general, positive terms and what school districts have to “manage” as the new reality. The Blade covered the years 2007 through 2013, years of Democratic and Republican administration (truly no partisan division). The reports by Kris Turner are State Does Little To Track Jobs From Loans, and Millions Of Dollars Lost In Ohio’s Pursuit Of Jobs dated 10-27-13, Political Ties Aid Firms Seeking State Assistance 10-28-13, and Many Jobs State of Ohio Says It Created Don’t Exist 10- 29-13. The headlines speak for themselves. Recurring themes found such as lapses with vetting as well as verification mirror those that led up to the financial meltdown on Wall Street in 2008. As corporations are entities existing only in contemplation of the law (now having religious convictions!), they appear under various guises, affinities and subsidiary connections. Oftentimes their only contact point is a PO box in a distant city. “Today, many of the procedures that resulted in governmental lapses are now being performed out of the public’s view. At the behest of Governor Kasich, the Ohio Department of Development was eliminated and morphed into the downsized Ohio Development Services Agency in September, 2012. Criticism of the Department of Development was a staple of Mr. Kasich’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010. The new agency — per the Republican-backed legislation that created it — contracts some of its services from JobsOhio, a nonprofit that was created by the state, seeded with taxpayer money, and shielded by law from public scrutiny. JobsOhio now vets and collects information about companies that request state assistance. The information JobsOhio amasses is reviewed by the Development Services Agency. Neither entity would comment on whether that information is a public record. Unlike the Development Services Agency, JobsOhio is not required to disclose the details of its activities to the state auditor or the General Assembly.” (Millions Of Dollars Lost…10-27-13). An analogous situation exists within Licking County/ Newark revealed recently with regard the Arcade and the adjoining properties affected by an antiquated fire suppression system/red and white X status designation. Ownership of properties/business was listed as some corporation, which in turn was found to be part of some other company which were in turn found to be located within the holdings of some individual. Much of the debate regarding property maintenance in Newark centers on this issue of ownership, and responsibility. The Blade article found that when a corporation defaults, goes bankrupt or just disappears in the night, tracking down the loan money owed is next to impossible. The grants and tax credits used as incentives require no reimbursement. “The loan, grants, and tax credits Mr. Snyder’s [C. David Snyder, Cleveland businessman] companies received are an example of how business people use relationships with politicians to grow their companies. State financing is particularly attractive because it carries a lower interest rate than a bank loan. Even better, state officials sometimes dole out grants that don’t have to be paid back.” (Political Ties Aid… 10-28-13) Vetting, eligibility, verification and eventual collection (enforcement) of how the public’s money is spent finds itself with increasingly smaller departments and with no public disclosure now legislated as a prerequisite. Though not the size of the NSA, the secrecy clause, or default lack of accountability due to overworked, understaffed oversight can likewise be found in Licking County as well as Newark. Bullet points from The Blade’s series reveal some troubling outcomes. “Among the findings of the investigation:

■ Buckeye Silicon is one of more than a dozen examples of a breakdown in the vetting, oversight, and management of loans and grants awarded to companies.

■ The state routinely invests in businesses that have financial problems and legal troubles. It also awarded loans and grants to companies whose executives were hefty political donors or were connected to top politicians in Columbus.

■ About 50 percent of the companies that received grants to create jobs failed to live up to their state job commitments. Those businesses were paid $45.5 million, which is half the grant funding the state awarded to spark job growth.

■ Many state records detailing job creation related to grant funding contained inaccuracies, which skewed the total number of jobs created by 25,000.

■ In total, 25 percent of the firms that received loans issued during the five-year period needed more time to complete projects, couldn’t make payments on time, or closed. Those 51 loans represent $79.2 million, or about one-third, of the $235.8 million that was paid to companies.” (Millions Of Dollars Lost… 10-27-13)

“But The Blade’s investigation found a much bigger problem:

● Reports from businesses that have open grants — meaning they still are using state grant money — inflated job figures by 59 percent. The 294 reports that were reviewed stated firms created 27,815 jobs, but state officials said they created 16,458 jobs — a difference of 11,357 fewer jobs.

● Reports from businesses that finished spending state grant money show they failed to create 83 percent of the jobs they promised to the state. The 240 reports reviewed stated those firms promised to create 10,173 jobs, but said they created only 1,775 positions. Officials at Ohio Development Services Agency, however, claim those companies created 15,006 jobs.

Of the 534 grant records reviewed, 195 contained errors, including incorrect job-creation numbers. The Blade asked the state about each error it found and state officials replied with new data, which was used to determine if companies created or lost jobs. The corrected state data was not recorded on official documents, but was sent to The Blade via email.” (Many Jobs… 10-29-13)

 

            In light of the Blade’s reporting, it is disappointing to note that no candidate for representation on Newark’s City Council differentiated themselves regarding how the public’s money is spent in terms of the bi-partisan refrain of jobs and economics of jobs creation. The same means of attaining that goal favored by the State of Ohio are echoed within Newark municipal policy and practice. Carte Blanche management of public money’s directed at this outcome are vetted, verified, monitored and enforced by either private agency with no requirement of disclosure, or burden an understaffed, overworked public department. And the candidates take no issue with that!

            The school districts across the state formerly found themselves under attack by the very reasons that today the State (and local) legislature create as legal policy for purposes of “competitiveness” in jobs creation and economics. After repeated insistence that school funding had been misspent, frittered away on nonessentials, districts found themselves increasingly restricted in funding and use of funding by the State. Although always transparent by decree (local public funding), schools found they needed to be even more so in addition to being required to justify any actions taken through stringent accountability, testing and achievement results. This accountability of public moneys (on public schools) didn’t extend to the business driven model of charter or private schools which, like some of the examples given by The Blade, could just disappear off the radar screen like a blib, leaving parents (and local public schools) scrambling to meet the public education requirement of the students affected. The obsession with creating jobs/economics on the backs of the working people who provide the funding is creating a bubble akin to that which the school districts experienced over the last 30 years (educate by providing the latest technology, which somehow was never quite new enough). The only difference lies in the legislated non-accountability that the jobs creators enjoy; no testing or achievement standards. It is now virtually impossible to have a “results driven”, publically funded jobs creation economic in the State of Ohio, or locally for that matter. And the candidates found it of no importance in their appeal for votes.

           

Yes voters need to be informed and now, more than ever, they need to vote.

 

Secret Democracy

June 8, 2013

            Gannet presented (and contributed to) a Cincinnati Enquirer article dated 6-8-13 by Chrissie Thompson entitled “Secret meeting provision for local officials passes Senate. Reporting for radioactive fracking waste also added”.  Quick quotes from that article:

 

“[Bill] Seitz, R-Green Township, this week sponsored an amendment to the state budget that would create an exception to the Open Meetings Law, allowing local governments to call closed sessions to consider tax breaks for new or growing businesses.”

“Local governments should be allowed to discuss economic development in secret because state governing bodies already have that freedom, said Sen. Bill Seitz, who sponsored such legislation as part of the budget that passed Ohio’s Senate on Thursday.”

“Municipalities often compete with other neighboring areas over new businesses and the new jobs they bring, Seitz said. Local governments should have freedom to make tax-break offers privately to keep their competitive edge over nearby localities.”

““Practically everything (JobsOhio does) can be conducted without adherence to the Open Meetings Law. Your local elected officials, who are also laboring in the vineyard of economic development, ought to have the same flexibility for negotiating purposes,” Seitz told The Enquirer. “The public, of course, will know of every decision once it is made.””

 

            The last line, of course, is quite memorable since this is likewise the case within any totalitarian regime (nominally “democratic” or not). Yes, Mr. Seitz, there is no provision in the federal or state constitution granting citizens the right to look. That freedom was overlooked by our founding fathers. And yes again, Mr. Seitz, the public eventually does become informed “of every decision once it is made.”