Thursday, September 1, 2011

Group Files Suit to Block Kasich's Sale of Prisons (Updated)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Heres John Kasich eating corn, because why not?
  • Here's John Kasich eating corn, because why not?

Update II: The details have been announced. Get them here. Ohio will only sell one of the five prisons.

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Update: Ohio today will announce which companies will get to pony up the cash to buy and run five of Ohio prisons. As the original item below stated, ProgressOhio filed suit to temporarily block the sale, claiming that Kasich's inclusion of the prison sale plan in the state's budget was unconstitutional.

Yesterday, according to the Dispatch, Judge Pat Sheeran of Franklin County Common Pleas Court decided against ProgressOhio's request for a temporary restraining order. However, he did set a September 13 date to deteremine whether voters where illegally denied the chance to decide for themselves whether Ohio should hang the "For Sale" sign on its prisons. Via the Dispatch: "Sheeran said that, if he decides in favor of ProgressOhio after the Sept. 13 hearing, the resolution would sever the prison-sale section of the budget bill 'in order to permit the 90-day referendum period to take effect so that, if the people desire, a referendum may be pursued to place the issue on the ballot.'" — Grzegorek

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You may recall that one of Governor John Kasich’s early pledges to turn Ohio around involved selling off five state prisons. Apart from evidence that past prison sales have gone poorly for everyone involved, the plan was hugely popular.

But as the state readied its announcement of the winning bidders on September 1, a liberal advocacy group filed suit late last week in Columbus, trying to block the sales to one of three out-of-state companies. Progress Ohio contends that the state pushed through the major policy change as part of its budget bill passed earlier this summer. And that, they claim, was illegal.

According to the group’s director, Brian Rothenberg, prison employees — including those at Grafton Correctional Institution — have joined the suit as plaintiffs.

Though the plan to sell prisons came with a promise of economic growth, Rothenberg sees only a drain on state resources, as private operators start wielding the cost-cutting axe and workers are shed by the bunch.

“This leads to negative and cyclical problems, more strain on unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and Medicare resources,” he says. And it comes on the heels of the state’s report showing that 11,900 federal, state, and local government jobs have been shed since this time last year. So a few hundred more shouldn’t hurt.

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