State funding for antipoverty programs falls as need grows
Posted January 16, 2019 in Press Releases
In 2017, 14.9 percent of the state’s residents lived in poverty – up from 13.3 percent in 2006. Despite this high poverty, a new report from Policy Matters Ohio shows that state policymakers have allowed support for some of the most crucial antipoverty programs to atrophy.
Human services are funded by a partnership between state and local governments and are administered by the counties. In the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008, Ohio and other states received additional stimulus dollars from the federal government to help alleviate some of the economic pain. This infusion allowed Ohio to provide disability benefits to people living in extreme poverty, cash assistance to low-income families, public child care, home visits for at risk mothers and babies and more.
When the stimulus ran out in 2011, Ohio lawmakers slashed the budget without replacing federal funds, opting to use the state’s resources on income tax cuts, tax breaks for the wealthy, and padding the rainy-day fund, said Policy Matters Senior Project Director, Wendy Patton.
“More than 184,000 Ohioans are living on less than $2 a day – that’s about as many people as live in Akron. But our lawmakers have cut programs that help the neediest,” Patton said. “We have people waiting nearly a year and a half for approval of Social Security Disability Insurance from the federal government, but state policymakers eliminated a program that bridged that gap, even though the federal government repaid the cost once people were approved. Only 23 of the 100 people eligible for cash assistance are getting it. And less than 5 percent of those eligible for home visits to get infants started right are getting that important assistance, despite Ohio’s high infant mortality rates – something Gov. DeWine has wisely vowed to address.”
The new Policy Matters report examines funding for several programs that serve Ohio’s most disadvantaged residents including home visiting programs for low-income mothers and babies, public child care, the state’s child support enforcement agencies and incentive funding for relatives who take custody of a family member’s child.
“With the 2020-2021 state budget, lawmakers have an opportunity to do better for Ohio families,” Patton said. “Governor DeWine’s campaign platform included raising income eligibility in the public child care program to help more working families and increasing the number of pregnant women or mothers benefited through home visiting. From that solid start, the governor should move on to restore other essential services.”