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Ohio's Tax Collections Were Off $850 Million Last Year

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. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports 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 percent 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.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.