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Good afternoon, Advocate,

We know that advocacy works. If you've been involved with us since the middle of March when the Executive Budget was released, you'll know that the PASSPORT program and the Area Agencies on Aging (the administrative agencies) were in a $160 million hole. As a result of working together with our partners at the state association for AAAs, AARP, and Fair Care Ohio, along with the emails and phone calls of supporters in the field like you, we have seen progress. The House added $15 million and then the Senate added another $15 million (which, combined with federal match, cut the shortfall in half). If you are interested in a summary of other changes in the budget, click here to read a recent budget report by Susan Ackerman of The Center for Community Solutions.

Together, we have gotten results, but we're not there yet. We know that more money is needed out of the Conference Committee, which is expected to wrap up its work tomorrow. Statehouse leaders need to hear from all of us. Will you email or call today? 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.

At our consumer event last week, Dianne Vranic shared her and her mother's PASSPORT story with Advocates for Ohio's Future. We wanted to share it with you today:

Dianne was first introduced to PASSPORT when she could no long support her mother. She said, "I didn’t know what to do, because I couldn’t afford the things she needed." But then a county worker told her about PASSORT. She is now 72 years old and on the PASSPORT program herself.

She has a wonderful personal care aide named Holly, who assists her in doing everything that she can no longer do for herself.  When she was told she had to have open heart surgery and needed to sleep in a recliner for the first couple of weeks after the surgery, PASSPORT assisted by providing a “lift chair.” She also uses PASSPORT transportation services to escort her to medical appointments. According to Dianne, “PASSPORT is the best kept secret in Ohio.” And as we know, PASSPORT on average costs one-third of what putting Dianne in a nursing facility would cost, and home-based care is what most seniors prefer.

Watch Dianne tell her lively story on YouTube.

Advocates for Ohio's Future needs your help to elevate these stories with our state lawmakers.

Will you take five minutes to call or email state leaders? Every call will make a difference. Tell them:

Proposed state budget cuts to emergency food assistance, behavioral health, long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities, early care & education, 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.

Thank you for taking time to advocate during this last push for a budget that shores up the safety net in Ohio. Please forward this email to give your friends and colleagues an opportunity to get involved.

To stay on our mailing list but opt out of daily messages during the Conference Committee debate, just click here.

Scott Britton, Coordinator

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