COLUMBUS -- First off, don't ask House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) if lawmakers included funding in the biennial budget for a new leadership institute at Ohio State University to provide a place for themselves to land after they leave office.
"That's about the goofiest damn question I've ever heard," he said after a reporter put that question to him, delicately, at the launch of the State of Ohio Leadership Institute, to be housed at OSU's John Glenn College of Public Affairs.
Yes, there have been plenty of whispers along those lines after the Ohio House added $5 million in funding for the effort.
No, Rosenberger, who is term limited and not eligible for an immediate return to the Ohio House, isn't setting things up for a high-paying position outside of the Statehouse.
"No, I'm not looking to come here to work for this institute at Ohio State," he said. "That's never been the premise for it."
Instead, Rosenberger and others have been working for a couple of years on the initiative to create a place where newly elected or longtime lawmakers and county, city and township elected officials could hone their governance skills.
In the next year or so, after staff are hired and programming is developed, there will be in-person and online coursework on all sorts of government issues.
"I've been in office now 24 years," said Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), who was on hand for the launch of the institute a few days back. "And I have seen that government seems to be getting more and more complicated. Sometimes we need to learn more about how to navigate around that complex system We also have been working very to create tools that our local elected officials and state legislators and state officials can use to make our state a better state in which to live."
Perhaps more importantly, the new institute will give office-holders from both sides of the political aisle opportunities to interact, with hopes that they'll learn about compromise and getting along with people who have different ideas.
"I know in 2017 it's hard to believe, especially from the press, that we want to do something that is good," Rosenberger said. "But that's what this is about, is trying to move our nation and our state and our communities in a better direction to be able to work for what's the right decisions, what's the right principles."
Which is all well and good, so long as the lawmakers who helped create it don't end up with high-paying jobs at the institute.
I've written in this space for more than 10 years now, covering the Ohio Statehouse initially for Dix Newspapers and subsequently for Gatehouse, after the latter purchased the former earlier this year.
I wrote one or two columns a week at The Daily Record in Wooster (a former Dix paper) for more than six years prior to that.
But this week's column will be my last. Starting next week, I have been assigned to work in the Newark/Licking County Bureau of The Columbus Dispatch.
I leave you in good hands from a state politics coverage standpoint -- The Dispatch/Gatehouse public affairs team is top notch.
Marc Kovac now covers Newark and Licking County for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.