Hands off Ohio rainy day fund

My, how far the state has come.

When the Ohio legislature approves the next two-year state budget, whether it’s Gov. John Kasich’s proposal, the Ohio House version, an Ohio Senate version or, what’s most likely going to be a blend of all, it will start the biennium with $482 million in the rainy day fund.

Two years ago the state projected an $8 billion budget deficit and had 89 cents in the rainy day fund. Kasich’s proposed budget would swell the fund to $1.4 billion, the threshold necessary to trigger tax breaks for all Ohioans, by the end of the year.

It’s important for legislators to avoid the temptation to spend the rainy day fund on local governments. It’s tempting because delivering money to local communities buys a lot of votes.

But offering tax breaks to Ohio residents is more important, which is why the automatic trigger was written into law many years ago. It’s also important that local governments have a consistent revenue stream rather than one with unsettling ups and downs, including mid-budget cuts that lead to layoffs and disruptions in services.