The Ohio Supreme Court ruled without a single dissenting vote that State reserves set aside a decade ago specially for smoking prevention programs remained state money and might be allocated for other purposes.
“I do not think that this legislation is constitutional, it would be better to spend those reserves for their original purpose,” stated Justice Paul Pfeifer.
“The General Assembly has full legislative power and executing that power it estimated Ohio’s budget priorities and adopted a law which allowed tacking those State reserves for other purposes. We can’t judge General Assembly action but we can determine whether it exercises its power in conformity with Ohio Constitution,” he said.
The current case pits health-care advocates who waited for the money to be allocated on anti-smoking programs against those health-care officials whose presented programs promised the money in the operating budget.
The lower court discovered that legislators developed an irrevocable trust with their anti-smoking foundation in 2000, a trust that even they couldn’t break.
The decision ends after approximately three-year fluctuating battle over part of Ohio’s share of a $10 billion, long-term national settlement with leading tobacco manufacturers as R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris.
Over the last years, the foundation had seen as usually that its settlement checks are allocated to other purposes before reaching the foundation.
The organization’s committee tried to hand over $190 million of its money to a foundation that had the same anti-smoking aim. That would have left Ohio foundation with about $40 million it is less than a year’s amount allocated for its programs which are aimed at helping smokers to kick the habit.
Money was eventually transferred in the current budget to sponsor Medicaid adult dental and vision services; breast cancer screenings and health-care coverage for children.
“I am sure that this is a great achievement for children’s health care in Ohio. At present Ohio has enough funds to assure that all children will have full access to admissible health care system, despite their financial situation. This important decision excepts state funds that can be used in order to make lives of many families and their children better,” Mr. Strickland stated.
Robert G. Miller, who was a beneficiary of one of the smoking cessation programs sponsored by the foundation, was one of the claimants in the case. At the process, the court found out that he and his colleagues didn’t have the right to that money.