Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Unconstitutional jobs law

Letter to the Editor
Published, April 5, 2011
Akron Beacon Journal

The problems with the JobsOhio bill as passed by the Ohio legislature and signed by Gov. Kasich go beyond accountability. More important are issues of democratic authority and constitutionality, as I testified in Columbus.

Permitting state funds to be invested in a private corporation appears to be a direct violation of Article 8, Section 4 of the Ohio Constitution, which states, ''The credit of the state shall not, in any manner, be given or loaned to, or in aid of, any individual association or corporation whatever; nor shall the state ever hereafter become a joint owner, or stockholder, in any company or association in this state, or elsewhere, formed for any purpose whatever.''

The prohibition of using public tax dollars for investments in private companies goes back to the 1837 Ohio Loan Law, nicknamed the Plunder Law, when the state was soaked for $20 million in lousy investments in canal and railroad corporations.

Public pressure resulted in the repeal of the ''plunder law.'' But that wasn't enough. What could be repealed today could be re-enacted tomorrow.

Thus, the democratic, grass-roots pressure to constitutionalize this prohibition — to place it beyond the reach of corporations and compliant public officials — by embedding the prohibition in the 1851 revised state constitution, still in effect.

The legislature and governor may have approved what they constitutionally did not have the authority to grant. I hope there will be a constitutional challenge to what could become Plunder Law II.

Greg Coleridge
Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
Cuyahoga Falls

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