AG Wants Changes To How State Awards Tax Credits And Other Incentives
Attorney General Dave Yost says he doesn’t like some of what he found in a review of state incentives for economic development projects in the final year of former Gov. John Kasich’s administration. He’s now pushing some changes to the way the state awards grants, loans and tax credits.
Yost said half of nearly $14 million in state economic development loan awards from 2018 were not compliant with applicable laws, and a third of tax credit awards worth almost $5 million weren’t compliant. And he said none of 34 roadwork development grants had firm job creation requirements.
Yost said some of these practices are longstanding, and that there appears to be a lot of pressure to make it seem those incentives are doing more than they really are.
"I wouldn’t go that far. But I think that this report shows that there are issues over there, that this program could be run more robustly with greater accountability," Yost said.
Yost said he’d like a law that requires JobsOhio turn over a list of projects that got both incentives from both the state and JobsOhio – which he says he requested and never received.
He said he’d also like to see a requirement that all roadwork development grants include job creation and retention expectations, and a ban on modifying incentive deals after terms are agreed to. And he added, “It’s worth asking the question whether there ought to be a backward looking claw back for tax benefits received when there’s later determination that the targets were not achieved.”
Yost said this isn’t about fixing blame, but fixing the system.
Matt Englehart with JobsOhio didn't take on the claims but said in a statement: “We take the performance of all of our projects very seriously and work closely with DSA on these projects to help companies attract jobs and investment for the people of Ohio.”
Todd Walker with DSA said in a written statement: "We appreciate the independent review of economic development incentives by the Ohio Attorney General’s office. The Ohio Development Services Agency provided all materials required for the Attorney General’s office to review and produce the 2019 Economic Development Accountability Report. Altogether, companies that had commitments due in 2018 overperformed on total jobs, total payroll and total investment in Ohio. They committed to create 25,812 jobs, add $1.4 billion in payroll, and invest more than $2 billion in Ohio. They outperformed those commitments by creating 26,486 jobs or 102.6% of commitment, added $1.8 billion in payroll or 130.5% of commitment, and invested more than $3.3 billion or 166.2% of commitment. We are reviewing the report and remain committed to ensuring strong accountability for taxpayer dollars."