Jobs Ohio Doesn't Have To Disclose Records On Taxpayer Money - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Jobs Ohio Doesn't Have To Disclose Records On Taxpayer Money

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - An important tool in government transparency is the Ohio Open Records Act, which gives anyone the right to examine public records.

But there is a major exception, and one agency doesn't have to hand over records about how it spends taxpayer money.

That agency is Jobs Ohio, Gov. John Kasich's new economic development engine.

Even though it receives huge amounts of public money, it is a private, non-profit organization and doesn't have to hand over records on how money is spent.

Kasich claims the secrecy improves Ohio's chances of economic success.

A recent NBC4 poll asked voters if they believe Kasich's claim. By an overwhelming 3-1 margin, Ohio voters said they motivation for making Jobs Ohio exempt from the Open Records Act is to prevent public oversight, rather than improve economic development success.

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The same poll shows that job creation is by far the top concern of Ohio voters, so it's natural that there would be great public scrutiny of Jobs Ohio, the program Kasich created by selling bonds backed by the state liquor profits.

Opportunity Ohio President Matt Mayer said the lack of public support for Jobs Ohio secrecy is counterproductive to the economic development mission.

"History has been about making government more transparent so it just goes against that history that in Ohio, we've made something less transparent and I think that's going to be the real challenge here is how do you keep going against history for an entity for which the results so far have not been great. Ohio is in the middle of the pack in terms of job growth since its creation, so it raises the question, 'Are we getting our bang for the buck knowing that it's secrecy out there?'" Mayer said.

Despite the strong feelings about the secrecy of Jobs Ohio, Mayer said he doubts that the issue of open government will play a big role in the upcoming election.

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