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Hi Advocate,

Governor Kasich signed HB 153, the biennial budget bill, into law last night. Click here to view Advocates for Ohio's Future's reactions in our news release.

We need you to take action one more time. Will you take a minute to thank your senator and representative for their work on these issues in the budget?

For vulnerable Ohioans, the FY2012-13 budget has improved from the budget introduced in March. It has built upon some of the strong foundations for health care reform, juvenile justice and early care & education in the Governor’s budget. The legislature also added provisions supporting home and community services for seniors and people with disabilities as well as mental health services; however, Advocates for Ohio’s Future and our coalition members are concerned that as more people need health and human services, the budget will fail to meet the rising demand and will cripple local social services.

While we have assurances from the Governor’s Office that funding for emergency food assistance will be addressed by the administration, other concerns remain. Ohio is a state in crisis, and this budget won’t do enough to help children, families, seniors, and people with disabilities through the recession, especially when it comes to local government service delivery.

We suspect further reliance on property taxes for local human service levies will cause even greater inequity across counties, particularly in those counties that don’t have levies. Furthermore, we are concerned about the number of people working in the county agencies delivering these services who will be losing their jobs on July 1 and after because of local government cuts.

The Governor and the legislature made a commitment in this budget to jump-start Ohio’s economy with jobs. Unfortunately, they failed to realize that subsidized child care and local government social services constitute vital workforce supports. These services help our neighbors remain productive and keep them from sliding further into poverty and desperation.

On the brighter side, our work did make a difference in many ways. Targeted advocacy by AOF, our coalition partners, and our network of grassroots supporters (including you!) across the state resulted in a number of gains over the biennium for vulnerable Ohioans, including:

•    Maintained Medicaid eligibility and “optional” services;
•    Increased support for PASSPORT by $38 million over the original recommendation;
•    Increased support for behavioral health by $26.9 million;
•    Restored funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers ($5.46 million);
•    Restored partial funding for kinship care ($8.4 of $10 million) and full funding for adoption subsidies ($7 million) in child welfare;
•    Restored $3 million cut by the House to Help Me Grow;
•    Turned back attempt to divert $10 million from the Ohio Housing Trust Fund to county recorders, maintaining the entire fund for affordable housing; and
•    Restored $4 million cut to funding for Intermediate Care Facilities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Now, we need you to take action one more time. Please thank your senator and representative for their work on these issues.

Click here to send a thank you email to your lawmakers.

Finally, thank you! Without working together we would not have accomplished what we did. Together, we've made thousands of contacts since January and made a difference on Ohio's policies and priorities.

So again, thank you for being involved, and for your support of Advocates for Ohio's Future.

Gayle Channing Tenenbaum, Co-Chair