Shortly after graduating with a Master’s degree in political science from The Ohio State University in 1977, I sought employment as a “practitioner” of the trade with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC). Upon interviewing with LSC Director David Johnston, he thought I would best fit the organization in their Legislative Budget Office (LBO). While structurally a part of the LSC, the LBO at that time was, for most purposes, an autonomous organization under the leadership of its charismatic founding Director, Richard G. Sheridan.
The LBO was created in 1973 as a legislative check on the executive and its close hold on financial information, the source of all fiscal power.
The LBO was created in 1973 as a legislative check on the executive and its close hold on financial information, the source of all fiscal power. Under Sheridan’s leadership, the new organization provided a real threat to executive dominance, and especially to its well-entrenched budget office. No longer would the General Assembly be solely dependent on the governor for fiscal information to use in the appropriation of state funds.
No longer would the General Assembly be solely dependent on the governor for fiscal information to use in the appropriation of state funds.
I interviewed with Sheridan and other senior members of the nonpartisan professional staff of the LBO, including David Brunson and Paul Marshall, in early 1978. Although Sheridan was an unforgettable figure, what I remember best from that initial meeting were my conversations with Brunson and Marshall. They cautioned me that while Sheridan was brilliant and an engaging leader, working for him was challenging in terms of the high expectations that he had for both the office and its staff. They also noted that it was a job that involved quite irregular hours. At times, it would be the 40 to 45 hours per week job that might be expected in any professional staff position. However, during biennial budget sessions, generally the first six months of odd-numbered years, the hours were simply insane; it would easily become a 70 to 80 hour per week job.
While Sheridan was brilliant and an engaging leader, working for him was challenging in terms of the high expectations that he had for both the office and its staff.
Although their alarms would prove correct, I willingly took the job when it was offered to me after a second interview. Working at LBO during Sheridan’s tenure was as exciting as it was challenging and, frankly at times, exhausting. It proved to be a wonderful learning experience, and one that would benefit me throughout the remainder of my career. A lasting memory is an inscription that Sheridan wrote in my personal copy of his then recently published book State Budgeting in Ohio. It read “To an analyst who needs this less than most;” high praise from the master.
Following Dick’s departure in 1982, the LBO lost much of the same competitive spirit that it had in those early days, despite solid, if less visible, leadership from his successors Dr. Matthew Filipic and Dennis Morgan. Although this development was furthered when the LBO was formally subsumed under the LSC in 2000, happily none of the professionalism that Dick brought to the task has been lost in the 46 years since he arrived on the scene.