COLUMBUS -- The next six months are going to be fascinating, for so many reasons:
Tight Budget: Gov. John Kasich and his administration have been warning for months that spending over the next two fiscal years is going to be tight.
Tax and other collections aren't coming into the state coffers at levels projected, so agencies shouldn't expect big (or, potentially any) increases in what they received in the current biennial budget.
There will probably be some cuts.
The administration will tell you that about half of the states in the country are in the same boat, with revenues lagging estimates. And they'll tell you they've budgeted responsibly so as to avoid devastating cuts during the current fiscal year -- something other states are facing.
You'll probably hear the governor say more than once that he's not going to leave the state budget in the sort of fiscal mess he had to tackle six years ago.
But there's a wrinkle in all of that sort of talk: state lawmakers. Because they're going to be hard-pressed to increase funding for local schools and local governments and other interests.
Kasich's Last Budget: Which brings up the fact that the governor is entering his final two years as the state's chief executive.
He's no longer running for president or, for the moment, any other elected office. And he has a legacy to solidify. Don't expect some wimpy status quo executive budget out of his office in about a month -- his two-year spending plan likely will include numerous policy proposals with long-term possibilities.
Near the top of that list will be provisions to better prepare Ohio's schoolchildren for jobs in the state's growing industries, high-tech and otherwise.
Legislative Republicans: The problem with all of that may be Statehouse Republicans, who have veto-proof majorities in the Ohio House and Senate.
And some of those members are none too happy about Kasich's decision to veto several bills that moved during the legislature's lame duck session -- the Heartbeat Bill, a continuation (of sorts) of the freeze on renewable energy and efficiency mandates, sales tax clarifications for the oil and gas industry and a new review process for state agencies.
Consider what Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said in a statement following the governor's veto of the energy bill: "It is apparent that Gov. Kasich cares more about appeasing his coastal elite friends in the renewable energy business than he does about the millions of Ohioans who decisively rejected this ideology when they voted for President-elect Trump. We can only hope that President Trump and his amazing cabinet of free market capitalists will save us from the regulatory overreach of Al Gore-style policies that take unnecessary money out of ratepayers' pockets. We will do our part by launching a full scale effort next session to totally repeal these Strickland-era mandates. With veto-proof majorities next session, we are optimistic of success."
The 2018 Election: That's not even mentioning 2018 and the ugliness potential of a contested Republican gubernatorial primary.
What happens in the next few months is going to have implications for people like Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted, three statewide office-holders who have their eyes on the governor's office.
Like I said, it's going to be fascinating to watch.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.