CHICAGO — The Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that lawmakers did not violate the state constitution when they diverted $258 million of tobacco settlement funds to help balance the fiscal 2009-10 budget.

With the state facing a potential $8 billion deficit going into its next budget cycle, the ruling allows outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland, Governor-elect John Kasich, and the legislature to breathe a small sigh of relief. An adverse ruling would have punched a budget hole in the current biennium.

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