Ohio's State Budget: An Update

April 23, 2019 by DRO Policy Analyst Jordan Ballinger / state budget

After Governor Mike DeWine introduced his proposed budget to the General Assembly, the budget was introduced as House Bill 166 (HB 166), and since then a team at Disability Rights Ohio has been reviewing the bill. Various House subcommittees have also held hearings on that bill (see Ohio's State Budget Process: Think Locally, Act Locally for more information on the process and subcommittees). On April 11, DRO provided testimony to the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, highlighting some of the needed investments made in the proposed budget. Listed below are six of those areas where the budget bill would increase funding:

1. Direct Service Provider (DSP) wage increase

HB 166 increases wages for DPSs through the Department of Developmental Disabilities from $11.12 an hour to $12.38 an hour. It also increases the wage for On-Site, On-Call providers from $6.09 an hour to $8.55 an hour, reflecting the state's minimum wage.

2. Increased access to home and community-based waiver supports (HCBS)

HB 166 more than doubles the investment in HCBS waivers for the Department of Developmental Disabilities from 2020 to 2021. This would provide for more than 4,000 new waivers, which includes Individual Options, Level One, and SELF.

3. Increased investment in multi-system youth

HB 166 builds upon the recommendations of the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth and the Recovery Ohio Initial Report by making critical investments in services for youth who are served by multiple state agencies. This will enhance care coordination and wraparound services for youth.

4. Increased investment in mental health services in schools

HB 166 proposes additional resources be provided to students for access to mental health services and supports. Behavioral health providers and schools would coordinate these services, which are critical in preventing youth from experiencing a crisis.

5. Increased state share for vocational rehabilitation ("VR") funds

HB 166 increases the state's investment to drawdown additional federal dollars for employment services through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. This increase is needed, as the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is double that of those without disabilities. However, the state is still not pulling the entire federal drawdown, meaning the agency will still not be providing as many employment services as it should be.

6. Increased investments for mental health services in state prisons and juvenile correction facilities

HB 166 provides additional funding to the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to provide mental health services to inmates and to keep those with mental illnesses out of restrictive housing - more commonly known as solitary confinement. The budget also provides additional funding to the Department of Youth Services for several programs ensuring youth access to mental health services through the System of Care initiative and RECLAIM Ohio. Both of these programs divert youth from the juvenile justice system and into community-based services.

DRO will continue to monitor the state's budget and these proposed investments. As the process moves forward, changes to the budget are sure to occur, and DRO will continue to educate and inform policymakers on the importance of these increased investments made by Governor DeWine and his administration.

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