Reality Check: JobsOhio and State Liquor Money

(FOX19) - 100 million dollars a year to invest in companies. That is what Governor John Kasich is promising for the state's liquor money.

Here's how it works.

Under the State of Ohio's Constitution, there is a provision that prevents the state from taking an equity position in businesses.  Under Governor Kasich's new budget, the state's wholesale liquor control is being transferred to the JobsOhio board.

JobsOhio is a not-for-profit, 501c3 board.  Its 9 members are appointed by the Governor, which happened on July 11th.

The board then turns around and contracts for the Department of Commerce to run the state liquor control.

All of that back and forth is for one purpose, so that the JobsOhio board can use the 100 million dollars a year in revenue to invest in businesses.

Ohio's Director of the Department of Commerce, David Goodman, told me this about the JobsOhio board.

"It is a private not-for-profit board and it has a fiduciary responsibility to invest in burgeoning and growing businesses to spur economic development and growth."  says Goodman.

So how is the money used? JobsOhio will use that money to give businesses more capital to expand.

What JobsOhio will do is take an equity position.  That means they will invest in a company, and taxpayers will profit if the company does well.  Those profits come back to the state and are re-invested into other companies.

"Our goal is to have a multi-billion dollar equity fund operating for the benefit of the state of Ohio and operating for the people of Ohio for the next 25 years."  says Goodman.

But not everyone is in support.  Opponents of JobsOhio including a group called Progress Ohio, are suing.

In fact, on Friday, they asked the state's supreme court to block the start up of the panel until the court decides whether this can all legally happen.

Their lawsuit claims JobsOhio violates several provisions of Ohio's constitution, including one prohibiting private entities from controlling public dollars.

Brian Rothenberg with Progress Ohio told Bloomberg News, "I have spent my entire career as an Ohioan fighting for the same things that John Kasich believes in -- a strong economy, good jobs...but you can't ignore Ohio's paramount document just because it's inconvenient."

So how large is this equity fund.

The State of Texas, which over the past 10 years has profited greatly by taking businesses and companies from all over the mid-west and east and west coast, has an equity fund of around 50 million a year.

If the courts allow it to stand, the state of Ohio would have twice that much money available every year for the next 25 years.

And that is Reality Check