Ohio hardly breaks the mold in dishing incentives to companies as part of a strategy for economic development. Other states do the same. The companies win, and so do the elected officials who often unveil the packages amid much fanfare, starting with big promises.
The question frequently overlooked is whether taxpayers receive the benefits pledged, especially in the category of job creation. Of late, Mike DeWine has been seeking answers. The state attorney general released last week his second annual report on the compliance rate for companies, and their political backers.
The attorney general looked at 266 awards ending in 2012, in the categories of grants, loans, tax credits and worker training. Roughly half fell short of what was promised, a smaller share than a year earlier. The Kasich administration noted that most of the incentives under scrutiny got their start under the previous governor, Ted Strickland. It also upped the ante, suggesting the results will be more favorable under a development regime now led by JobsOhio.
So Ohioans can expect a much higher compliance rate soon, the Kasich team having set its own standard. Then, there is the question the attorney general’s report doesn’t explore: With many factors at work in deciding a project’s fate, how much do incentive packages, now commonplace, really contribute to job creation?