Ohio Budget

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (center), flanked by Senate President Larry Obhof (left) and House Speaker Larry Householder delivers his State of the State address March 5, 2019.

Ohio is one of 42 states across the country operating in the black, according to a recently unveiled analysis that looked at government spending through the lens of the new U.S. tax codes.

HowMuch.net, a cost information website, recently published a report that stacked up each state’s spending and compared it to the amount of revenue coming in. Ohio, according to the data, generated a 12.29 percent surplus.

While retaining a surplus is a good financial practice for a business or household, some observers have said that Ohio's budgetary surplus isn't money that the state should hoard, but rather should return to taxpayers. In a report this year, the Buckeye Institute claimed that returning surplus dollars to taxpayers would create 2,100 jobs.

In a statement within the HowMuch.net analysis, author Juan Carlos said the review could play an important role in next year’s presidential election.

“With November 2020 on the horizon, questions about government debt, tax rates and the expansion of social programs will be at the forefront of national conversation,” Carlos wrote in the report.

The analysis also comes at a time when the federal deficit reached a record high. Debt within the U.S. government now stands at $23 trillion.

Depending on a candidate’s platform, Carlos said in the report the outcome of next year’s election could impact states’ debt levels in the road ahead.

In Ohio, How Much’s analysis revealed per-capita spending of $7,600, compared to revenues of $8,600, per capita.

The analysis looked at a number of factors for each state on the expense side of the ledger, including intergovernmental expenses, employee costs, supplies, service contracts and insurance benefits and repayments.

The review of states’ revenues looked at such criteria as taxes, insurance trusts and intergovernmental payments.

In some metrics, such as the amount of revenue brought in through taxes, Ohio was near the middle of the pack, with $2,600, per capita. By comparison, the highest state in the category, Vermont, reported $5,000 per capita for its revenues.

Despite Ohio's surplus, the Buckeye Institute has encouraged lawmakers to make significant expenditure cuts and in turn lower taxes to spark economic development. In an April report, the think tank published a report identifying $2.5 billion in potential savings in the state's biennial budget.

Ohio's neighboring states fared differently in How Much’s analysis. West Virginia and Michigan notched budgetary surpluses of 10.36 percent and 10.29 percent, respectively, according to the report.

But other neighbors fared differently, including Pennsylvania and Kentucky, each notching deficits of 0.63 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.

Other states with budgetary deficits, according to the report, included Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Vermont and Wyoming.

Nevada led off the states notching the highest surpluses, according to the analysis, with 27.65 percent, followed by Hawaii, Idaho, North Carolina and, at 15.5 percent, New Hampshire.