***For Immediate Release ***
July 1, 2021
Ohio Makes Some Positive Strides Forward in the Budget, but Earns a Grade of Incomplete for Children and Families
COLUMBUS — Today, Governor DeWine signed into law Ohio’s 2022-2023 $74 billion biennial budget which makes critical investments for Ohio’s children and families, but also reveals blind adherence to policies that have consistently failed Ohioans. We believe the future of Ohio’s children rests, in large part, on the decisions that Ohio’s adults make on their behalf. That is why Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, a member of the Ohio Children’s Budget Coalition, advocated for the holistic needs of children in Ohio’s state policy decisions throughout the budget process.
CDF-Ohio commends the General Assembly and DeWine Administration for protecting, maintaining, and increasing investments in the following areas:
- School Funding Overhaul: Inclusion of the phased-in Fair School Funding Plan to achieve greater equity in how we fully and fairly fund our state’s schools
- Infant and Maternal Health: Extension of 12-month postpartum Medicaid coverage for new parents to protect their health and that of their newborns
- Internet Connectivity: Expansion of Broadband Infrastructure support, including, specific funding for telehealth to support behavioral health for children
- Access to Quality Child Care: Expanded income eligibility for publicly funded childcare access to 142% of the federal poverty level and preservation, in part, of the Step Up to Quality program
- Youth Justice Programs: Investments in community-based alternatives to child incarceration, such as RECLAIM, and investments in behavioral health
- Housing Security: Sustained affordable housing access for low-income families
- Public Benefit Access: Elimination of proposed barriers (asset tests and change reporting) to access benefits, such as SNAP and Medicaid
- Services for Multi-System Youth: support families with children who have complex needs across systems through protection of the OhioRISE program
- Early Childhood Home Visiting: Investment in evidence-based home visiting for families that expands eligibility to children for an additional two years
Though much has been accomplished, this budget earns a grade of “incomplete.”
The notable exclusion of the Student Wellness and Success Funds as a separate fund to meet behavioral health needs of students is a missed opportunity to support children – especially after this past year. Though these funds will be rolled into the Fair School Funding formula to fund the phase in, it should have been funded separately. The state of Ohio has the resources to do both. Further, additional work is needed to support foster youth rights and their safety and infant and maternal health through the support of doula services through pregnancy, delivery, and post-partum care.
Unfortunately, the biennial budget also includes a misguided commitment to $1.7 billion dollars in income tax cuts for Ohio’s wealthiest. This action will only widen income disparities and starve programs children and families need to thrive. These tax gimmicks threaten the fiscal health of our state by prioritizing the needs of Ohio’s wealthiest while ignoring Ohioans who are struggling financially. Notably, those making less than $107,000 a year on average will get a tax cut of just $43.00 a year. In contrast, the wealthiest Ohioans will get an average $5,400 tax break per year, despite having shouldered the least burden of the pandemic and subsequent economic recession.
“Many Ohioans suffered catastrophic economic hardships through sudden job loss and the loss of childcare during this pandemic. These losses had significant ripple effects in our communities where we witnessed lines at food pantries that were miles long and similar signs of economic distress. While we are pleased with the people and community-centered strides in this budget, there’s major work ahead of us to make Ohio a place where all children and families can thrive and flourish,” says Tracy Nájera, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund.
About Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.