Attorney General says half of state loans not in compliance


By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS - Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Only half of the entities receiving state economic development loans substantially complied with the terms of the loan, according to a review by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost of awards that closed out in 2018.

In addition, none of the state’s 34 roadwork development grants evaluated in 2018 included solid job creation or job retention requirements, Yost said Monday in announcing the results of his review.

Yost, a Republican, also said the state Development Services Agency modified the grant terms to reduce or eliminate requirements, allowing the recipients to be complaint after the fact.

“You should not be able to modify the terms of the agreement after the agreements are entered into,” he said.

The noncompliant groups received almost $14 million in loans, Yost said. He also criticized the agency’s requirement that entities be only 90% compliant.

The agency did not provide a list of awards handled by it and JobsOhio, the private economic development corporation created under former Gov. John Kasich, despite requests from the attorney general’s office.

The Development Services Agency provided all materials required for Yost’s review, said spokesman Todd Walker.

The agency appreciated the review, is examining Yost’s report, and remains “committed to ensuring strong accountability for taxpayer dollars,” he said.

When examined overall, companies with commitments due in 2018 created 26,486 jobs, added $1.8 billion in payroll, and invested more than $3.3 billion — more than was promised in each of those categories, Walker said.

Yost recommended that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and lawmakers review the loan program to “determine whether there are sufficient controls in place to ensure the public’s dollars are being wisely spent.”

Yost also suggested the state auditor take on such reviews in the future. Keith Faber, the current state auditor, said Monday he supports that proposal.

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By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS

Associated Press

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