The good news, as Gov. John Kasich will be sure to remind Ohio voters during his re-election campaign next year, is that Ohio's "rainy day fund" is nearing $1.5 billion. It had a balance of less than a dollar when he took office in 2011.
The bad news, however, is that the budget surplus has less to do with "smart government" and fiscal resolve than shuffling money from other areas of the budget. You can bet the governor won't be pointing that out next year.
Kasich and the GOP majority at the Statehouse cut more than $1 billion from the Local Government Fund, traditionally a source of funding for county, city and other local government operations. The reduction in funding has been felt at many levels.
Funding for education also was reduced. Libraries took a major hit, as did funding for mental health and social services. Reduction of funding from the state creates a ripple effect, forcing cuts in personnel, services and other spending to make ends meet, and ultimately hastening levy requests for more funding at the local level.
While Kasich, to his credit, has worked hard to make state government more efficient through privatization of some functions and innovative approaches to other areas of state operations, such as the Ohio Turnpike and development efforts, his economic agenda has not been implemented without costs.
The hefty balance in the Budget Stabilization Fund may convince the governor that he has, indeed, achieved a turnaround of Ohio's economy without raising taxes -- one of his governmental mantras -- and he can point to the numbers as proof that his strategy has worked. A closer look, however, tells a different story. Just ask a school superintendent, librarian or mental health advocate about that.