mourningdovemotherhood

Posts Tagged ‘kasich’

Ohio’s History Repeats Itself: A Return to Plunder Laws

In inequality, Midwest, Politics on August 30, 2011 at 11:47 am

courtesy flickr creative commons - http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/

I just started my third year of law school (hence the slowdown in posting to the blog), and I am in the midst of finalizing a comment* on the (un)constitutionality of the Kasich administration’s JobsOhio initiative. For those of you not familiar with JobsOhio, last spring the Ohio General Assembly enacted and Kasich signed into law  a bill privatizing the state’s Economic Development department. What this means is that Kasich can appoint private industry executives to a board of directors (which was initially going to be headed by Kasich, until they realized it was blatantly unconstitutional) and channel funds to private corporations (and it just happens they all were campaign donors or are people he is fairly friendly with), all under the guise of “creating more jobs”.

In my opinion, JobsOhio is pretty horrible. And I believe it is certainly unconstitutional. But as I have done research on this, what has really struck me is how much the more things change the more they stay the same. We have been here before. History repeats itself. Insert your favorite cliche.

The reason why the Ohio constitution prohibits using public finds for private enterprise in the first place is because we went down this road before, and it ended with corruption and waste. The pertinent constitutional provisions came about because of some not-so-different laws passed in the early- to mid-1800s. At that time Ohio was a young state and very much in need of greater transportation to get goods to market. There was a boom in industry, with the need for trains, canals, and better roads. The public wanted them all built, and in the flurry of activity, allowed their legislative representatives to enact laws that would channel state funds to private companies willing to build the infrastructure.

Unfortunately, while some train tracks and canals were built, the state took on huge amounts of debt. Much of the debt was never repaid by the corporations (many of which took the money and ran); train tracks were never built, or if they were built, they were often duplicate routes and were an efficient use of tax dollars.  Money was channeled to cronies. And areas of the state in need of infrastructure were not served. In sum, huge amounts of public funds led to a whole lot of nothing. A backlash ensued, and the public demanded accountability for the use of their money. The result was a new state constitution that placed huge limits on public financing of private enterprise.  And in the end, after the new constitution went into effect, the railroads were still built and canals dug, all without use of the public coffers. 

The moral of the story is this: taking the public money and giving it to private corporations leads to a whole lot of BAD. It leads to corruption and waste. Ohioans of the 19th century called laws that funded these acts “plunder laws”. It seems plunder laws have returned, this time with promises of jobs and new industry rather than new roads and canals.

My prediction: we will see fraud, we will see money channeled to cronies, and we will see an uneven use of funds benefiting some state regions more than others.

Let’s heed the wisdom of those who went down this road before. Let’s follow our constitution, and rather than repeat mistakes of the past, prevent them from happening all over again.

* For those sane individuals who have wisely steered clear of legal education, a “comment” is a short academic legal article

Advertisements

Victory for Ohio Workers!

In Midwest, Worker's Rights on July 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Ohio Secretary of State has now certified the SB 5 petition signatures, meaning that voters will have the chance to repeal the anti-union legislation this fall! This is great news. I am so impressed by the work of the organizers, who not only got enough signatures, but broke the record by obtaining 915,456 valid signatures.  Further proof that the Ohio people do not support Governor Kasich’s extreme far-right policies.

I am signed up to volunteer to help spread the word about the ballot initiative and encourage you to do the same! Just check out Stand Up for Ohio’s website and sign up online to take action!

Kudos to Kasich: Governor Gets it Right in Vetoing Water Bill

In Midwest, Politics on July 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

While I am not a huge fan of Kasich (understatement?) I applaud him for taking the bold step of vetoing  House Bill 231, which would have dramatically increased industrial access to Lake Erie water, without any safeguards such as permits or scientific review.

Seems that Kasich has angered his friends. But perhaps their loyalties are to their pocketbooks–rather than to the people’s lake. In today’s Columbus Dispatch, an editorial states:

“[bill] sponsor Lynn R. Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, [] sniped at Kasich, “I think he’s tired of getting beat up and thought he’d screw the business community and look popular.” Consider also that Wachtmann is president of a bottled-water company, an obvious conflict that should loom large whenever he talks about what’s best for Lake Erie.” (Columbus Dispatch)

President of a bottled-water company?! You can’t make this stuff up.

(Of course, Wachtmann’s name might sound familiar; he is one of the sponsor’s of Ohio’s horrific “heartbeat bill” which would ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected.  Lovely eh?)

Again, kudos to the Governor to standing up to special interests who have dollar signs in their eyes rather than a desire to protect our valuable natural resources.

Ohio is Broke…So Why are We Forfeiting $176.3 Million in Federal Funds?

In Great Recession, Politics on July 14, 2011 at 10:03 am

From (full disclosure: my employer) Policy Matters Ohio:

Ohio now has less than two months to take steps to modernize its unemployment compensation system, or it will forfeit $176.3 million in federal funds.

Call me crazy, but it seems kind of irresponsible for lawmakers to forfeit this money at a time when the state is so broke.

update: the issue is featured on the Columbus Dispatch.

Even Ron Swanson Would Disapprove of Ohio Republicans

In Midwest, Politics, Poverty, Worker's Rights on June 30, 2011 at 10:45 am

If you are a fan of Parks and Recreation, then you are probably familiar with meat-eating-Libertarian Ron Swanson. As much as Ron Swanson and I might disagree about the role of government, I think he would agree that the Ohio Legislature is currently violating several of the cornerstones of the Pyramid of Greatness.