Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 11:23 AM
The Ohio Supreme Court has given state leaders the green light to do something they've already been doing in recent years - divert funds from the tobacco settlement to the state general fund. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.
Ohio won a big lawsuit against tobacco manufacturers more than a decade ago and part of the money from it was put into a special fund that was to generate money for tobacco prevention efforts. But when Ohio's economy went sour in 2008, Governor Strickland diverted $230 million dollars from that fund to the general fund...that prompted trustees of that account to start maneuvering to try to protect some of those funds for the original intended purpose. They sent remaining funds to a national anti-smoking group so the money could be shielded. State leaders said the trustees didn't have the right to do that. A court fight ensued. Now, the Ohio Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue. It said the state and Governor Strickland had the right to use those funds the way they did because the funds were not constitutionally protected.