Ohio's State Budget: Last Call for Advocacy

June 26, 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 both the House and Senate. Now the two Chambers are debating differences and deciding on a compromise through the Conference Committee. The budget is required to be signed by the Governor June 30th, which means there is limited time to advocate on provisions important to you.

This budget update will highlight seven provisions discussed in two previous blogs and how they have been altered by both the House and Senate (see Ohio's State Budget: An Update and Ohio's State Budget: We Need Your Help).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 wrap around services. However, this critically needed funding was reduced in the Senate by $125 million over the two year budget.

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

The House and the Senate continue 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 and Senate both 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 continued to educate and inform policymakers on the importance of these provisions and the increases proposed by the Governor. With the end of the budget a few days away, there is limited time to educate your local policymakers on provisions that are important to you. Here are some links to help you stay informed and connect with them:

Follow the state budget on our legislative resource page here:

Connect with your legislators here:

Learn how to add your voice to the state budget process here:


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