Whether a family, business or government, it is wise to have savings for when bad times hit. That’s why it was good when Governor Kasich announced on Wednesday that over $657.5 million has been added to the state’s rainy-day fund. This brings the Budget Stabilization Fund balance to $2.691 billion. That said, this good news brings very different reactions depending on your viewpoint.
If you believe that government should be run like a business, only spending what is legitimate and proper, then this deposit and current balance are necessary for when times get tough. The economy is cyclical and will someday hit Ohio with a major slowdown. When that day comes, the state of Ohio has assured that it has funds ready to continue caring for the least of us. There will not have to be emergency measures for a short-term fix.
The other side of the discussion asks that these funds be distributed for a few other purposes, such as infrastructure improvements or the fight against opioid abuse. The loudest complaint was from local governments asking to replace monies they perceive to be owed. When the local government monies were cut it was not a temporary move. The legislature and the governor clearly meant it to be permanent. Additionally, there were many at the time who believed that the local governments as well as the state needed to become more efficient. This has taken place through the dedicated work of leaders both statewide and locally.
Good fiscal strategy requires only spending what is necessary, not what can be made available through increased taxes or fees. It must include planning for downturns that inevitably will come. With strong discipline the legislature and administration have put the state of Ohio in position to take care of its citizens in good times and bad. In fact, this fund is the largest it has ever been. They should be commended for forward thinking and responsible operation.
There will continue to be many crying out for their piece of the pie, but just as in a family, the best outcome for all must be at times no or not yet. Because of these actions, the state will be ready when harder economic times arrive. This isn’t easy because some are in dire straights already, but for the good of all, the deposit is necessary and right.