Julie Carr Smyth

COLUMBUS: During the darkest days of the Great Recession, Ohio didnít have enough in its rainy day fund to buy even a candy bar. It held a balance of exactly 89 cents.

Today, the emergency fund has swelled to $247 million. A nearly $8 billion state budget gap has been closed. And unemployment has fallen from a high of 10.6 percent to 7.6 percent.

After a few rough years, Ohio ó and many other states ó are starting to regain their financial footing. They are still climbing out of a hole, but things are looking up.

One reason: The improving economy is producing more tax revenue for the states. States have also cut spending and taken some creative steps such as selling prisons or other assets.