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Gov. John Kasich has had both setbacks and victories since taking office in January 2011, but a Fox News interview on April 2 gave him the chance to focus on success.
"We were the number one job creator in America in February," he told anchor Neal Cavuto, "and we are now the number four job creator in the last year" -- claims that PolitiFact Ohio checked and rated as True.
Kasich went on to tout the state's fiscal progress, saying, "Our rainy day fund has gone from 89 cents to $240 million."
That's quite a swing. We wondered about the numbers, and especially about that bargain-basement figure of 89 cents. We asked Kasich's office for verification.
Spokesman Rob Nichols referred us first to the Office of Budget and Management. Lest we search and not find, it promptly corrected us that it's not really the "Rainy Day Fund" but the less colorful "Budget Stabilization Fund." (Bob Dylan didn't write "Budget Stabilization Women #12 & 35.")
OBM issued a statement last July saying that $246.9 million had been transferred from general revenue into the Budget Stabilization Fund, giving it a balance of $246.9 million.
We did the arithmetic with the exact numbers and found the starting balance was $1.78. It's the opening balance for the current fiscal year, according to OBM's summary of fund activity.
Kasich's number of 89 cents is half of that. The governor explained the difference near the end of his State of the State address in February:
"When I came in," he said, "we had a rainy day fund that had 89 cents, and I'm told that budget guru over there, Brian Perera, sent an 89-cent check to double the amount of money we had in the rainy day fund."
Perera is budget director of the Senate Republican caucus and an acknowledged expert on state finances. The same story about him appeared almost a year ago in the blog Ohio Budget Watch.
It was true, he told us.
The rainy day fund, which was drained by the recession after topping a billion dollars, was left in April 2011 with a balance of 89 cents.
Seeing an opportunity few of us could resist, Perera wrote himself into state legend by writing a check to the state for 89 cents and doubling the fund.
Kasich actually understated the fund’s latest balance, as of March 30, when he rounded it to $240 million. The 89 cents was accurate.
His statement rates as True.
CQ Transcriptions, Fox News, Anchor Neil Cavuto with Gov. John Kasich, April 2, 2012
Email with Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols, April 3, 2012
Ohio Office of Budget and Management, "OBM Transfers $246.9 Million into Budget Stabilization Fund," July 8, 2011
Stateline, "State budgets are better, but still bad, officials say," April 15, 2011
Columbus Dispatch, "Ohio's austerity budget pays off as credit ratings stabilize," July 22, 2011
Gov. John Kasich, State of the State 2012, Feb. 7, 2012
Ohio Budget Watch, "Is the GOP fiscally conservative? We’re about to find out," April 14, 2011
Ohio OBM, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,"June 30, 2011
Interview with Brian Perera, April 5, 2012
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