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Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican hoping to unseat incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown from the U.S. Senate in November, makes at least five separate claims in a attacking Brown or promoting his own candidacy.
Among the ad’s claims: Mandel "cut the budget."
Cut the budget? How did Mandel cut it? Setting the state budget is the job of the governor and General Assembly.
PolitiFact Ohio decided to take a look and put the question to Mandel’s campaign. They backed up the statement by citing a report released by the treasurer's office last July after a self-described "top to bottom review" from his first six months in office.
"By targeting waste and improving operations," it says, the treasurer’s office ended the 2011 fiscal year with a $400,000 surplus that was returned to the general fund.
The general revenue fund operating budget for the 2012-13 biennium was reduced by $1.2 million, the report says.
The reductions in expenses range from $2,000 that had been used for an outside contract for a plant-watering service to $850,000 saved by reducing budgeted full-time employees from 140 to 127.
We looked at supporting documentation from the Legislative Service Commission and Office of Budget and Management, and at news coverage of treasurer's office operations.
The coverage included reports that the treasurer’s overall budget had actually increased, from $38.3 million in fiscal 2011 to $41 million in 2012, the current fiscal year.
Looking more closely, however, we found that the treasurer’s overall budget includes state funds and benefits programs administered by the treasurer's office. The general revenue fund total, the portion of the budget that covers operating expenses, does decrease from the 2010-2011 biennium to 2012-2013, according to the Legislative Service Commission.
The amount appropriated by the General Assembly for operating expenses -- the spending over which the treasurer has the most direct control -- decreased from $8.2 million in fiscal 2011 to $7.7 in fiscal 2012 and 2013, according to the legislative Service Commission.
So where does Mandel’s claim that he "cut the budget" rate on the Truth-O-Meter?
His statement is accurate. His office finished the last fiscal year with a surplus and his office cited specific steps it took to spend less money. Also, the money appropriated for operating expenses for this fiscal year and the next fiscal year is reduced from the FY 2011 total.
There is additional information, though, that provides clarification.
As seen in the ad, some listeners might interpret his bare claim that he cut the budget as meaning he trimmed the state budget. Money for the state budget, including the treasurer’s office, is set by the General Assembly and the governor.
And the overall total appropriated for his office in FY 2012 and FY2013, when including state funds and benefits programs administered by the treasurer's office, is actually greater than FY 2011.
On the Truth-O-Meter, Mandel’s claim rates Mostly True.
Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate campaign, "Change," May 23, 2012
Legislative Service Commission, "The Ohio Budget Process"
Ohio Revised Code, "Chapter 113: Treasurer of State"
Email with Mandel staff, June 1, 2012
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, "CY2011 Top-Bottom Review," July 12, 2011
Associated Press, "Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel says review decreases office budget," Jan. 17, 2012
The Columbus Dispatch, "Mandel Tightens Money Belt," July 12, 2011
Dayton Daily News, "Treasurer Mandel under scrutiny for hiring practices," March 31, 2012
Ohio Office of Budget and Management, Operating Budget, FY 2012-13
Legislative Service Commission, "Analysis of the Enacted Budget," August 2011
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