When it comes to the controversial plan to privatize the role of the Ohio Department of Development that involves job creation, Republican Governor John Kasich and Ohio House Democratic leader Armond Budish are not on the same page – at all.
By IKE MGBATOGU
COLUMBUS – When it comes to the controversial plan to privatize the role of the Ohio Department of Development that involves job creation, Republican Governor John Kasich and Ohio House Democratic leader Armond Budish are not on the same page – at all.
While a gung-ho Kasich is moving “at the speed of business” to privatize Ohio’s job growth efforts, Budish is calling for the governor to slow down, citing, among other things, the recent debacle in Florida where the Republican Governor Rick Scott recently fired the president of a company he hired to privatize the Department of Development in that state.
“The Florida example should lead Governor Kasich to slow down his headlong march toward his reckless plan for Ohio,” said Budish.
“Our caucus raised good questions about accountability, conflict of interest, pay to play and open records. Between these issues not being addressed and the news out of Florida, we should be carefully considering this legislation, not rushing it to a vote next week,” said Budish.
But Kasich disagreed. Calling the Department of Development stale and unproductive in terms of job creation, he believes his new ‘JobsOhio’ Initiative is the way to go.
And he is certainly going that way – at lightning speed. The governor announced, last week, while speaking at the Tarrier Steel Company in Columbus, that a vote on House Bill 1 – the legislation being crafted to get the ball rolling on this – could take place this week.
The bill calls for, ‘JobsOhio’ to take over the job creation function of the Department of Development, to be managed by a small cabal of folks assembled from the business community. Mark Kvamme, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, was hired a couple of weeks ago to lead the effort.
Kvamme, said Kasich, “will run the Department of Development and rationalize it. He’ll say, this should go, this should stay… and he’ll help me draw up the metrics for how we’re going to do these deals.”
“I couldn’t get a better guy,” he said, of Kvamme, his longtime friend from Lehman Brothers.
But, could he and Kvamme at least go a tad slower?
That’s precisely what Budish and his Democratic caucus are calling for. In their eyes, Kasich is moving way too fast on this for their comfort. Worried that many of their concerns are not being addressed, they want the “headlong” Kasich and his conservative administration to move slower. Then, there’s the telling news out of Florida that further stoked their concerns.
Because of “the news out of Florida, we should be carefully considering this legislation, not rushing it to a vote next week,” said Budish.
For his part, Kasich has explained that his JobsOhio initiative will be managed by a nine-member board with the governor serving as its chairman.
Administration officials said that board members will be appointed to four-year terms, will hold four public meetings a year, and will be compensated for expenses only. Kasich has also assured Ohioans that the process will be “transparent” and that board members will be held to the same ethics standards as university trustees.
None of this should come as a shock to Ohio voters. During the recent bruising campaign for governor, at pretty much every stomp, Kasich made it abundantly clear he would privatize the development agency.
He, even at times, vowed to scrap the development agency altogether.
Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at Onumbamedia@yahoo.com