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Ohio to disclose estimated value of tax credits

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio's development agency says it will provide the estimated value of state tax credits for businesses following concerns from Gov. John Kasich that the information be publicly available.

The Development Services Agency had begun encouraging reporters in recent weeks to calculate the potential value of the credits on their own, rather than providing them with the estimate as it had previously done.

"We thought we were taking a path to put the most accurate information out there and so we gave everyone the tools to do that," Lyn Tolan, spokeswoman for the agency, said Tuesday. "But if they prefer that we're running calculations, we're happy to do that."

Tolan said the agency had wanted reporters to do the calculation to get a more accurate picture than the state's initial estimate, which can change.

Reporters had asked the governor Monday about the change in providing the estimates. He acknowledged that he wasn't familiar with how the information was disclosed. But, he said, "If it's been historically open, we want things to be open."

His agency then reversed course Monday afternoon, saying it would again provide the potential values upon request.

"We're happy to provide anything that we have and can," Tolan said.

The estimates are for future tax credits that new or expanding businesses will receive based on performance. They show the credits' potential value. Public information is used to calculate the figure, under terms agreed to by the Tax Credit Authority.

The state's tax credits have been under increased scrutiny. Many of the proposals before the Tax Credit Authority come from JobsOhio, the state's privatized job-creation agency.

JobsOhio has faced legal and transparency questions nearly from the beginning. Structured to "move at the speed of business," the entity is funded by proceeds from state liquor profits. Ohio's Republican state auditor has subpoenaed its financial records.