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Hello Advocate,

Can you take five minutes right now to email or call and send a message to Statehouse leaders? They need to hear that $37 million -- or 20 percent of the $187 million 2011 surplus -- needs to be set aside for health, human service, and early care & education programs.

More resources are needed to avoid serious consequences for vulnerable Ohioans.

Just last week, troubling news came out of Cleveland. The county ADAMH Services Board that helps those with mental illness and addiction will cut a fifth of its staff and a third of its programs (see the Plain-Dealer article).

One local columnist, Phillip Morris, went so far as to say that “people are going to die” as a result of cuts to services for the mentally ill, police force layoffs, and closure of a trauma unit (see Morris's column). Our partners in the behavioral health field staged a massive day of action on Wednesday to draw lawmakers’ attention to these concerns. We need your help to keep up the pressure.

Will you take five minutes to call or email state leaders? Tell them:

Proposed state budget cuts to emergency food assistance, behavioral health, long-term care, early care & education, developmental disabilities, and child welfare will have real-life consequences for vulnerable Ohioans, particularly for the nearly 1 in 3 Ohioans who live at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Economic projections for the next two years suggest that life won't be getting any easier for vulnerable Ohioans who have been struggling because of unemployment, wage stagnation, and high fuel and food prices. Please set aside $37 million (which is 20 percent of this year's surplus) to support critical programs for children, families, seniors, and people with disabilities in Ohio.

Even if you can make only one or two phone calls today and continue calling over the weekend, you will be making a difference.

Stay tuned next week as we bring you moving consumer stories from an event we held with our partners in Cleveland yesterday. We heard from six consumers who shared powerful stories about their experience with a range of services they receive.

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Thanks for staying involved and investing your time and energy. Please inform and involve other people in your network by forwarding this message.

Will Petrik, Outreach Director