Ohio Budget Priorties
Final Updates: H.B. 166 – The Ohio State Budget
Governor DeWine signed the Ohio State Budget for Fiscal Years 2020-2021 in late July. Thank you to everyone who assisted us with budget advocacy by contacting their legislators to ensure that the best interests of Ohioans with disabilities were taken into consideration throughout the budget process.
Also, thank you to all of our local legislators including, Senator Robert McColley, Senator Teresa Fedor, Senator Theresa Gavarone, Representative Derrick Merrin, Representative Lisa Sobecki, Representative Paula Hicks-Hudson, Representative Michael Sheehy, Representative Steven Arndt, Representative Jim Hoops, Representative Craig Riedel, and Representative Haraz Ghanbari for taking the time to meet with the Advocacy Program staff at The Ability Center of Greater Toledo about our budget advocacy priorities, and for working tirelessly to ensure the needs of their constituents with disabilities are being met. The final version of the budget contains aspects that are beneficial to Ohioans with disabilities. Below is a summary of some of the highlights:
In the final version Ohio State Budget Centers for Independent Living (CILS) in the state of Ohio (such as The Ability Center) saw an increase in funding and will now receive $450,000 per year for Fiscal Years 2020-21 to be distributed amongst the 12 CILS in the State of Ohio.
The House of Representatives increased the DSP rate to $13.00 per hour beginning on January 1, 2020. The Senate changed the increase to be incremental by providing $12.82 per hour in 2020 and $13.23 by the second half of 2021. While Governor DeWine vetoed the specific wage increase numbers, money has still been allocated in the budget for a wage increase, and Department of Developmental Disabilities and the Governor have indicated they will still provide wage increases to DSP's.
The House and Senate both increased the investment in HCBS waivers for the Department of Developmental Disabilities from 2020 to 2021. This would provide for additional waivers, including Individual Options, Level One and SELF. The Governor maintained these increased investments in the final version of the budget.
The Ohio General Assembly passed an additional $70 million dollars to go to regional transit authorities (RTAs) around the state. While the money was in Ohio’s general budget (GRF), it was voted on as part of Ohio’s Transportation Budget, setting a precedent for thinking of RTA dollars as transit dollars rather than something that needs to compete with other public services.
Section 9.54 of the Ohio State Budget states that. “Whoever erects or replaces a sign containing the international symbol of access shall use forms of the word "accessible" rather than forms of the words ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled’ whenever words are included on the sign.
Transportation and health care are considered to be the two most important and impactful issues facing people with disabilities in Ohio.
- Increase Funding to Regional Transit Authorities in order to create regional networks of accessible, reliable, affordable public transportation.
- Ensure that the line item for mobility management is fully funded.
Transportation: The Ability Center believes in a safe, affordable, robust and barrier free transportation system that supports individuals with disabilities in full community integration. Persons with disabilities need transportation in order to work, volunteer, shop, participate in recreational and family functions and otherwise contribute to their community. Priority topics include:
- Double state funding for public transit authorities to 14.6 million and ask the state to contribute half of the local match for FTA funded projects;
- Preserve and ensure full funding for the Mobility Manager program with a $6.7 million state match;
- Preserve and increase options for benefits-funded transportation for persons with disabilities including non-emergency medical transportation through ODJFS and Medicaid cab through Medicaid Waivers.
- Health care:
- Increase Funding for Personal Care Attendant/Home Health Aide Wages.
- Preserve Medicaid Expansion; Continued funding for Home Choice.
- Increase state funding to support Ohio Centers for Independent Living.
- Increased Wages for Personal Care Attendants/Home Health Aides to $13/ hour;
- Fund ODM’s HOME Choice Program;
- Preserve and continue Medicaid and Medicaid Expansion.
Health care: The Ability Center advocates for funding in the Medicaid Budget for the following priorities:
Funding for Centers for Independent Living: The Ability Center advocates for increased funding for Ohio’s 12 Centers for Independent Living. CILs are a one-stop resource for many Ohioans with disabilities, providing a variety of programs and services, and our collective goal is to assist these citizens to live independently int heir community of choice.