Ohio's State Budget: Final Update

August 6, 2019 by DRO Policy Analyst Jordan Ballinger / state budget

Since the introduction of the State's budget by Governor DeWine as House Bill 166 (HB 166) in March there have been several changes made by the House, Senate, and the joint Conference Committee (made up of members from the House and Senate). On June 30 the two legislative chambers were unable to come up with a deal and passed a seventeen day extension to pass the bill.

Finally, on the morning of July 17, the General Assembly approved the budget bill sending it to Governor DeWine. The Governor signed the bill the following morning. DRO applauds the Governor, the House, and the Senate for maintaining and increasing investments for several essential services and supports.

This final budget update will highlight seven provisions discussed in three previous blogs and how they have been altered by both the House, Senate, Conference Committee, and Governor. (see Ohio's State Budget: An Update; Ohio's State Budget: We Need Your Help; and State Budget: Thank You for Your Advocacy).

1. Disability Rights Ohio as the protection and advocacy system (P&A)

The House added a provision that would establish a Joint Legislative Committee to consider redesignation of DRO as the P&A. Due to the advocacy of self-advocates, DRO, and partner organizations, the Senate removed this section of the budget. The Governor maintained the elimination of this provision when he signed the bill.

2. Direct Service Provider (DSP) wage increase

The House of Representatives increased the DSP rate to $13 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. Governor DeWine vetoed this specific wage increase numbers; however, the overall funding remains intact and Department of Developmental Disabilities and the Governor have indicated they will still provide wage increases to DSP's.

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

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.

4. Increased investment in multi-system youth

The House and Senate both built upon the recommendations of the Joint Legislative Committee on Multi-System Youth by making critical investments in services for youth who are served by multiple state agencies. Specifically, the Senate revised the funding to help prevent custody relinquishment and obtain services consistent with the Ohio Family and Children First Council. This will enhance care coordination and wraparound services for youth. The Governor maintained the changes proposed in the Senate.

5. Increased investment in mental health services in schools

The House increased investments for additional resources to be provided to students for access to mental health supports and wraparound services. These investments were maintained by the Conference Committee and the Governor.

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

The House, Senate and Governor continued 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 House and Senate versions of the budget will still relinquish federal dollars for Ohio that the feds will, ultimately, reallocate to other states. This means the agency will not be providing as many employment services as it could be.

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

The House, Senate and Governor continued investments for 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.

Throughout this process, DRO has educated and informed policymakers on the importance of these provisions and will continue to monitor the implementation. Because of your advocacy, calls to offices, and testimony we all made an impact helping to better lives for people with disabilities in Ohio.

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