Ohio tax collections for the fiscal year that ended last month were more than $850 million off estimates. But the state ended the year with a balance of nearly $171 million. And almost a third of that was transferred from 15 pools of money held within various state agencies.
Budget director Tim Keen transferred $54.1 million from funds set up for oil and gas wells, job development initiatives and lung cancer research, among others. And the current budget allows the authority for the next two years to take up to 2% from eight different funds, including those set up for the state EPA, the Consumers’ Counsel, the Industrial Commission and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Keen says this isn’t an unusual method of supporting the state’s finances. "Look, our general fund is $36 billion. So it is a very small fraction of our budget.”
Previous governors have made similar raids on so-called “rotary funds”, including $120 million transferred by former Gov. Ted Strickland to close a nearly $2 billion budget gap in 2009.