March 28, 2013
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The proposed budget for fiscal years 2014-15 brings more money to the state by accepting millions of federal dollars for Medicaid and keeping revenue sharing funds that would have historically gone to local governments, libraries and schools. At the same time, aggressive savings and tax cuts prevent restoration of services and further drain limited resources.

Many public services remain inadequate four years after the official end of the recession: an estimated 30,000 Ohioans are on waiting lists for services for developmentally disabled citizens, while local communities that lost half of their state support are privatizing services, dimming streetlights and raising fees. The state is going from being a “high-tuition, high-financial-aid state” to one where tuition is high and aid is low. Deep poverty remains a real problem – of the more than 640,000 Ohio children living in poverty in Ohio, nearly 300,000 live in extreme poverty, which is below 50 percent of the federal poverty level. Of those, 115,000 are children living in families receiving Ohio Works First cash assistance. An additional 100,000 children live with families that receive only food stamps and have no cash income.[1]

Expanding Medicaid is the most important public policy decision of a generation: it brings enormous benefits to Ohioans and to the state. However, more should be done to restore the safety net and other eroded public services. The billion dollars in tax cuts in the proposed budget, plus hundreds of millions more anticipated as the Rainy Day fund overflows into the “Income Tax Relief Fund,” should instead be used to relieve the suffering of children and families in poverty, to help restore local finances, and to invest in assets that help build a brighter future for all Ohioans.

Other sections:
Executive summary
Medicaid expansion
Other health and human services
K-12 education
Higher education
Local government
Tax policy

[1] Testimony of Director Jack Frech of Athens County, Ohio, delivered to the Health and Human Service Subcommittee of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, March 12, 2013.  See appendix for a copy of the testimony.

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