March 7, 2013
COLUMBUS — A complaint filed Friday by Ohio’s new private job creation entity asks the Ohio Supreme Court to compel the state to act on an agreement providing funding that was expected but delayed by a lawsuit.
The budget and commerce departments agreed this year to transfer rights to the state liquor business to JobsOhio for the next 25 years in a deal worth $1.4 billion.
The budget and JobsOhio leaders signed the transfer agreement this week, but Director of Commerce David Goodman declined to join them. He said Friday that he fully supports JobsOhio but didn’t feel he could move forward yet because constitutional concerns raised about JobsOhio have yet to be addressed by the high court.
“It is imperative to give the Supreme Court the opportunity to address the constitutional questions to clear up any uncertainty and to allow the state to move forward with the transaction and JobsOhio to maximize its resources available for job creation and economic development,” Goodman said.
Officials said the new complaint could provide the court with that opportunity.
The transfer process has been delayed by a lawsuit by the liberal group ProgressOhio and two Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Dennis Murray, of Sandusky, and Sen. Mike Skindell, of Lakewood, challenging whether it’s constitutional to turn public money over to a private entity.
Last month, the 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus upheld a judge’s decision to dismiss the challenge on the grounds that opponents didn’t have legal standing. ProgressOhio appealed the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, which hasn’t ruled in that matter.
JobsOhio officials said they’re confident the idea is constitutional.
“We need to spend every minute of every day focused on economic development, and let’s get this taken care of so we can move forward,” JobsOhio President Mark Kvamme said.