June 14, 2007

Ohio State Finances Update: Strickland’s Tight Budget Claims Still Ring Hollow; Ohio’s Press Is Still Asleep

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 1:33 pm

The Questions Remain:
Why Is Ted Strickland Pleading State Budget Poverty,
and Why Isn’t Ohio’s Press Corps Challenging Him?

Here is the key chart from the Ohio Office of Budget and Management’s (OBM’s) Monthly Financial Report for May (PDF) that was released this morning. The red lines were added by me to correct for a $284 million error, to be explained, that OBM made in April:

OHsituation0507

The OBM graph’s Apr-07 points contain the items that were discussed in Tuesday’s posts. As of April 30, tax receipts were $153 higher than anticipated, while total revenues from all sources were down by $163 million (because “non-tax receipts” were $316 million less than anticipated). But total spending was down $794 million. Overall, before correction, the state was $631 million better off (-$163 + $794) than it expected to be as of the end of April. Correcting for the $284 million error discussed below in “May Expenses,” the state was, in reality, $347 million better off than anticipated at the end of April.

May Revenues:

  • As of May 31, tax receipts were $257.8 ahead of budget — about $105 million more than at the end of April.
  • (not shown) How Ted Strickland can be blaming the previous administration’s tax cuts for the state’s supposedly tight finances is beyond me, because personal income tax collections alone were $102 million of the $105 million favorable May result just noted, and are now a whopping $269 million ahead of budget year-to-date. The real question is why the income tax wasn’t cut by an additional 8.4% last year.
  • OBM’s report claims that the income-tax numbers are “inflated …. due to slower refund processing,” but doesn’t give us an estimate of the amounts of the unprocessed refunds. I would think that the amount of unprocessed refunds is pretty small, because those getting substantial refunds would mostly have filed their returns in February and early March.
  • “Non-tax receipts” continue to come in well below what was expected (now $352 million year-to-date), primarily because of lower Medicaid reimbursements from Uncle Sam tied to lower statewide Medicaid spending. This is why overall receipts through May are $146.5 million less than anticipated.

May Expenses:

  • The expense situation for May was distorted by a Health Care (Medicaid) error OBM made in April. OBM says (bold is mine) that “a transaction error ….. pushed the final payment for April into May…. The Medicaid payment (all funds) that was projected to be disbursed on April 30 totaled $284 million.
  • April’s $284 million Health Care amount that was erroneously pushed into May means that the state’s reported situation at the end of April, unbeknownst to anyone outside of OBM at the time, was overly optimistic. Because of this, and contrary to what the state’s uncorrected graph above would indicate, the state’s spending situation actually worsened compared to budget in April, but changed for the better in May.
  • I have inserted the red lines on OBM’s graph to correct for the impact of the April error. I’ll leave it to readers to guess why, given the acknowledged error, the OBM didn’t issue a monthly graph of the state’s revenue and spending situation correcting for that error.
  • Overall, as of the end of May, the state has spent $666.9 million less than expected.

This means that the state, at the end of May (assuming, ahem, that there aren’t errors in May that won’t get discovered until June), was $520 million ($667 mil less $147 mil) better off than it expected to be in its original forecast.

So, even after all the error-correcting “fun,” the key questions from Tuesday remain:

  • Why is Governor Strickland pleading state poverty when the fiscal year’s first 10 11 months have, on the whole, turned out so much better than expected?
  • Why is Ohio’s media totally failing to follow up on the governor’s incomplete claim of “declining budget revenues,” and not challenging the unsupported “tax cuts” blame game he is playing?
  • Instead of wondering whether, when, and how the governor is going to drop the tax-increase bomb, why aren’t Ohio’s legislators and taxpayers asking for the second 8.4% installment of the planned income tax cut, plus repeal, before it does serious damage to the state’s economy, of the execrable Commercial Activities Tax?

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Previous Posts (June 12):

‘World Stature’ Watch

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:31 am

A popular talking point on the Left, really closer to an article of faith, is how the United States has “lost stature” in the world due to our involvement in Iraq, our refusal to buckle to Kyoto-like restrictions relating to globaloney, blah blah blah.

As noted previously (last item at link), while this alleged “loss of stature” has been occurring, governments around the world have been trending rightward or solidifying their (relatively) conservative positions. Though there are others, the short list of clear rightward shifts includes Canada, Germany, and now France, while the list of solidifiers starts with Australia and Japan.

It’s relatively small addition, but add Belgium to the list of rightward-movers:

Verhofstadt to resign after major defeat
11 June 2007

BRUSSELS (AP) – Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is to tender his government’s resignation Monday, one day after general elections in which conservatives – led by Christian Democrats – dealt his Socialist-Liberal coalition a stunning defeat.

As votes were still counted Sunday, Verhofstadt, 54, conceded defeat, saying he would leave the limelight after eight years as prime minister. ”The voters of our country … have opted for a different majority,” he said.

Then there’s the possibility that Nicolas Sarkozy, with a commanding majority, may be in the process of putting in “a pro-growth, tax cutting, deregulation, reform plan” in France, i.e., R-R-R-Reaganomics (HT Instapundit). An extra crate of smelling salts for faint-feeling lefties is definitely required.

Watching the US “lose stature” has never been so much fun.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (061407)

From the Empty Words Department:

China should not punish people for expressing their political views on the Internet, Yahoo! Inc. said Monday, a day after the mother of a Chinese reporter announced she was suing the U.S. company for helping officials imprison her son.

Yahoo! criticized China in a brief statement that didn’t specifically mention the case of jailed journalist Shi Tao, whose mother visited Hong Kong on Sunday. Shi was sentenced to 10 years in 2005 after sending an e-mail about Chinese media restrictions.

The company has acknowledged sharing information about Shi with Chinese authorities.

Memo to Yahoo!ers — Then don’t help people get found so they can be caught and imprisoned. That’s why you’re on BizzyBlog’s Internet Wall of Shame.

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Phyllis Schafly adds another great reason to the gazillion already on the table for preventing the shamnesty bill from passing:

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, please call your boss and urge him to read your May 9 speech to the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic in Washington, D.C. Your eloquence in describing the silent epidemic was exceeded only by our shock at the facts you described.

“The dropout rate for African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students approaches 50 percent. … Every year nearly a million kids fail to graduate high school …. The United States has the most severe income gap between high school graduates and dropouts in the world.”

….. Right on, Secretary Spellings. But your own boss must be one of those in a state of denial. At the same time you were delivering your call for action, President George W. Bush was demanding passage of the Senate immigration bill that would dump many more millions of high school dropouts in your lap.

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Ho-Hum Hiring Headline:

DirecTV to add 1,000 jobs in Colorado
June 7, 2007

Satellite television company DirecTV Group Inc. plans to add as many as 1,000 Denver-area jobs at the company’s new, 256,000-square-foot operations hub it opened Thursday in Centennial, Colo.

El Segundo-based DirecTV’s (NYSE: DTV) call center management, information technology and data center, retail services support and other functions will be based at the center, which occupies a six-story Inverness Business Park building formerly home to defunct telecommunications company ICG.

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Planned Parenthood in California hoards taxpayer money. So much for being a “non-profit.”
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John Lennon was prolife. Sean Lennon should be glad that he was.

Positivity: Rescue hero in line for gallantry award

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:59 am

News from Afghanistan:

As bullets and rockets flew around him, L/Cpl Oliver “Teddy” Ruecker had to make a choice: to keep his head down or risk his life to save one of his comrades.

L/Cpl ‘Teddy’ Ruecker braved a barrage of bullets to save a comrade
“I didn’t really think at the time. I just did it,” he said.

What 20-year-old L/Cpl Ruecker did could now lead to him receiving the military’s highest decoration, the Victoria Cross.

Read the whole thing.