Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald on May 31 called on Republican Gov. John Kasich to veto a bill that would prevent State Auditor Dave Yost from fully auditing JobsOhio, following months of controversy surrounding the private nonprofit entity.
“I further encourage the governor to return to negotiations with Auditor Yost, with the explicit goal of establishing an open and transparent process by which the people of Ohio can be sure JobsOhio is spending our tax dollars efficiently, and that the program is doing what it is supposed to be doing: creating Ohio jobs,” FitzGerald said in a statement. “The people’s money is the people’s business, and this bill, which slams shut the door on accountability, is simply unacceptable.”
Yost claims he can audit JobsOhio’s liquor profits, which add up to $100 million a year, and private funds, such as donations.
But the bill effectively defines JobsOhio’s liquor profits as private funds that can’t be audited by the state auditor.
Under the proposal, Yost could only audit liquor profits and excise taxes that JobsOhio owes to the state, with all other funds effectively deemed private.
JobsOhio was established by Kasich and Republican legislators in 2011 to replace the Ohio Department of Development. The agency’s liquor profits come from a lease deal with the state to run Ohio’s liquor operations.
Yost argues the liquor profits are public money because the money would be in public hands if JobsOhio wasn’t handling operations.
The bill could have far-reaching effects beyond JobsOhio that would effectively disallow public audits of privately funded accounts in any institution that receives public funding.
Kasich is expected to sign the bill to make it law.