Upon leaving the Legislative Budget Office in 1982, Richard G. Sheridan relocated to Lakewood on Ohio’s North Coast, where he taught classes and served as fiscal director at Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin Urban Center. He later moved to The Center for Community Solutions (then, the Federation for Community Planning), where he was a prolific author of publications on a myriad of state budgeting matters. However, the lure of government service was strong and beckoned to Sheridan again in the mid-1990s. At that time, he returned to Columbus as chief financial officer in the Office of Auditor of State, where he served for two years as a top lieutenant to Auditor Jim Petro. As always, Sheridan loved putting a light on waste and fraud in government, and exposing it to the benefit of the public treasury.
Sheridan loved putting a light on waste and fraud in government, and exposing it to the benefit of the public treasury.
Back in Northeast Ohio, Dick rejoined forces with Community Solutions. Most of his publications were short pieces on contemporary budget issues. However, his best-known works were probably the first two editions of the full-length book Follow the Money. They built on two earlier manuscripts of his, State Budgeting in Ohio and Governing Ohio. Former State Representative Patrick Sweeney succinctly summed up the impact of Follow the Money and Sheridan’s other writings in saying “So THIS is how it works. Everybody in Columbus had his books on their desks.”
Everybody in Columbus had his books on their desks.
Dick left us too soon, passing the day after his favorite holiday, Christmas, in 2009, just shy of his 72nd birthday. Four months later, at a well-attended memorial service at the Ohio Statehouse, I had the opportunity to get reacquainted with the then Executive Director of Community Solutions, John Begala. I had known Begala since the late 1970s when he was a state representative with a focus on health care-related issues, and I was serving as the Medicaid analyst at the Legislative Budget Office. A few months later, Begala asked me to review, as well as write, some short publications for his organization. Eventually, I was honored when he tapped me to do an update of Dick’s seminal work, Follow the Money.
In the third edition of Follow the Money, which was published in early 2013, I was able to revise the structure of the book and cover important changes in state budgeting during the Strickland administration and the initial years of the Kasich administration. As Sheridan had taught me how to write professionally, the task of blending his words with my own was much easier than one might realize. Frankly, I cannot usually tell what portions of the book Dick wrote and which I authored.
I cannot usually tell what portions of the book Dick wrote and which I authored.
We did, however, differ on our perspective on executive versus legislative dominance in state government as it impacts the budget process. While Sheridan was almost entirely a creature of the legislature and saw things through that lens, my experience was considerably more varied. I worked for many years as not only a legislative budget analyst, but also as president of the State Controlling Board, a joint executive-legislative body. Although I worked closely with the General Assembly in this capacity, I was in fact a deputy director in the executive budget office where I gained a whole new perspective. I also served in a senior-level capacity in three other Ohio Cabinet-level agencies in two separate administrations. Finally, for 14 years, I was a higher education advocate as the founding Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges. There, I saw the budget process from yet another viewpoint. These different vantage points invariably found their way into the text of both the third and fourth editions of Follow the Money.