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Hello Advocate,

On Tuesday, Governor Kasich released his plan for the "Mid-Biennium Review" (MBR). The MBR focuses on education, tax reform, workforce, and supporting Ohioans in need. Advocates for Ohio's Future believes that Ohio can be a great place for all Ohioans to live and work, and the MBR proposes several new initiatives designed to help Ohioans achieve their potential and participate in the economy.

The actual bill is 1,620 pages long. Advocates for Ohio's Future and our partners are doing our homework to evaluate the details.

Here is what we know now about proposals that strengthen families and communities in the MBR:

  • Office of Human Services Innovation - The MBR includes a proposal to establish an Office of Human Services Innovation within the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. This new office will focus on aligning policies and services among ODJFS, Board of Regents, the Office of Health Transformation, and the Office of Workforce Transformation to help Ohioans living in poverty. Advocates for Ohio’s Future looks forward to working with the Administration to improve the way our state delivers services to strengthen families and communities.
  • Expanded EITC - The MBR also includes a proposal to increase the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 5 percent to 15 percent of the federal credit. While the change will help ensure that more working Ohioans have adequate income to support themselves and their families, Advocates for Ohio's Future will work to make the tax credit refundable in the future to increase opportunity for all Ohioans.
  • Coordinated Workforce Training System - Ohioans seeking to improve their careers and lives with new skills deserve world-class supports, but Ohio workers do not always get the training that best prepares them for Ohio’s in-demand jobs. The MBR aims to improve Ohio’s complicated and fragmented workforce system by transforming the system to become more streamlined, responsive and efficient, making it easier for Ohioans to contribute to the workforce.
  • Support for Ohioans with Mental Illness and Addiction - The administration will propose an initiative to increase access to crisis intervention and safe places for Ohioans with mental illness and addiction. These temporary housing and treatment resources fill a gap for those Ohioans who are able to live at home and those transitioning out of the highest levels of care by providing them a safe place in times of crisis.
  • Preventing Substance Abuse - The MBR proposal targets existing resources towards prevention initiatives that are essential in order to stop substance abuse before it gets started. By targeting evidence-based programming that has proven to keep kids away from drugs, fewer families will have to deal with the costs and heartache of addiction in the future. The MBR also proposes directing resources to support tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
  • Services for Individuals with Autism - In the MBR, Governor Kasich proposes the creation of a free, voluntary online training and certification program for Ohioans interested in getting training on how to work with individuals with autism. This service will improve the quality and safety of supports available to families of children with autism.

These proposals are a good start, and Advocates for Ohio's Future remains encouraged by initial statements from the Administration about strengthening Ohio’s economy by focusing on jobs and education. However, a number of key areas were left out that could make Ohioans more competitive and increase opportunity for all Ohioans.

Budget and policy priorities not included in the MBR:

  • A strategy for a strong and sustainable direct service workforce (the number one in demand job in the country).
  • Additional support for adult protective services to protect older Ohioans from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
  • Policies that prevent the abrupt loss of child care and other work supports as people climb out of poverty.
  • A refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that helps keep working families out of poverty.
  • Increased investment in food and nutrition assistance to ensure families have the security to seek opportunities.
  • Increased investment in child welfare to improve outcomes for children and families. Ohio is 50th in the nation in state funding for child welfare.

Take 2 minutes to ask lawmakers strengthen families and communities in Ohio.

Over 275 individuals and organizations have signed our letter to Ohio lawmakers, and we need your help to reach our goal of 700 signers. If you have not already done so, sign on today to ask state lawmakers to focus on strengthening families and communities in 2014.

We plan to send the letter to every member of the Ohio General Assembly at the end of March. Between now and then, we need your help to build support across Ohio. Our ultimate goal is to promote our values, our ideas for policy priorities, and ask lawmakers to focus on more ways we can strengthen Ohio in 2014.

The MBR (HB472) was introduced in the House Ways & Means Committee yesterday afternoon. House Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina) told reporters yesterday that the MBR will be broken down into at least 11 bills. Stay tuned for further analysis, action alerts, and other opportunities to get involved in the debate.

Will Petrik & Gail Clendenin

Advocates for Ohio's Future