During the Senate’s floor debate of the State budget, Senate Finance Chairman Chris Widener pointed to the fact that the State’s revenues came below estimate in May as evidence that it’s premature to talk about a Strickland surplus providing additional funding beyond the draconian cuts to schools, cities, and nursing homes because the economic recovery in Ohio is fragile. 

“You know the revenue estimates for the month of May? I think the (Senate) President (Niehaus) mentioned after session. We’re down for the month as compared to estimated revenue,” he told reporters. “That’s not a good sign. That’s basically a clear indication the governor’s counselors are probably right–that we are still not out of the woods yet. We’re going month by month.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s PolitiFact evaluated the claim and rated it “Barely True.”   The Plain Dealer ruled as such because it identified the reason the State of Ohio’s revenues came under estimates last month as something that was entirely non-economic in nation:

It showed May tax sources off by $3.8 million — a negative 0.2 percent of all tax revenues. However, one of the best indications of the health of Ohio’s economy relative to expectations — personal income tax — was $94 million above estimates.

It turns out domestic insurance tax, which Ohio insurance companies pay on the premiums they collect, was the guilty party. Revenue from that tax for May was 48 percent below estimates for the month, which adds up to a whopping $87 million, according to the revenue data.

Dave Pagnard, a spokesman for the state budget office, said in an e-mail that the numbers for domestic insurance tax were off because of the timing of the mailings of the billings — notices were sent too late in May for the payments to be received in time to count in the monthly numbers.

In other words, but for the failure of the Insurance Department to get their bills out in time (as initially estimated), the State would have come in $82.2 million in the black.  In other words, May wasn’t evidence of the economy losing steam, but that Ted Strickland’s Director of Budget and Management failed to predict that Kasich’s Insurance Department would fail to timely bill the insurance companies in May.

Hey, who’s in charge of the Ohio Department of Insurance again?

Mary Taylor, Lt. Governor/Director

Oh yeah, Mary Taylor, the Lt. Governor.

Boy, I can’t imagine the egg on the Administration’s face when it turns out that the Plain Dealer realized that the Administration was directly responsible for creating the impression that the State’s generating below estimated revenues during the last month before the State’s budget needs to be passed.

Oh wait, that’s right.  The Plain Dealer never even mentioned Taylor’s role in the phantom numbers.  Mary Taylor created the phony myth of the $8 billion deficit.  Now Taylor’s office is directly responsible in making it appear that the State is generating below estimate revenues just as the Senate debated the Kasich budget.

I blame Ted Strickland for incorrectly predicting that the State of Ohio’s Insurance Department would timely get its bills out in time.  Thank God, Governor Kasich has budget forecasters who are able to factor the Administration’s failures into their economic projections.

That’s what Senator Widener meant, right?

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