COLUMBUS – State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake) today released a statement regarding the signing of the state operating budget (HB 33) into law. When the budget process began in January, the General Assembly was tasked with appropriating an $88 billion dollar budget for the next two years, including an unheard of $7 billion dollar, one-time budget surplus.
“This budget is unlike other budgets because it represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do good; to better the lives of Ohioans, and to make key investments that put our state back on the right track,” said Rep. Sweeney, Ranking Member of the Ohio House Finance Committee. “This budget is better because the House worked together not simply for Republicans or Democrats, but for all Ohioans.”
“The political reality is that budgets are a compromise between two chambers,” said Rep. Sweeney. “That reality resulted in missed opportunities and forced us to focus on mitigating harm rather than doing more for the people of Ohio. I remain deeply concerned about an explosion of unaccountable private school voucher spending, the dismantling of the State Board of Education, and the steady erosion of long-term revenues with cuts to the top income tax brackets that jeopardize the state’s financial security and ability to fund schools and support first responders. However, I supported this budget because of major bipartisan wins, especially on public education, healthcare, and childcare. While this is not, and never has been, a Democratic budget, we showed that we can improve the lives of Ohioans by putting people first.”
The budget contained many positive provisions that the House Democrats fought for, such as:
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
- Provides a historic $1.5 billion increase for public schools, using the most up-to-date Ohio data to fully fund the next two years of the Fair School Funding Plan.
- Funds a study to calculate the true cost of educating an economically disadvantaged student in Ohio, something which has never been determined.
- Covers the cost of reduced priced breakfast and lunch for all students between 185% FPL and 130% FPL (i.e. the Federal thresholds for free vs. reduced school meals).
- Increases the base teacher salary to $35K from $30K and adjusts the remainder of the teacher salary schedule accordingly.
Third grade reading guarantee
- Eliminates student retention under the third grade reading guarantee beginning with the 2023-2024 school year; includes a safe harbor year for the 2022-2023 school year.
- Requires continued intensive reading intervention until the student is at grade level.
- Requires schools provide high-dosage tutoring opportunities included during instruction time of at least three days per week, or at least 50 hours over 36 weeks.
Free feminine hygiene products
- Requires each school that enrolls girls in any of grade 6-12 to provide free feminine products to those students.
- Permits each district or school to choose to provide such products to students below grade 6.
EdChoice Scholarship Data Performance System
- Requires ODE to develop measures to demonstrate the performance of students on a state voucher and enable parents to compare the performance of voucher students against that of students enrolled in private schools.
- This would be for EdChoice scholarship students enrolled in chartered nonpublic schools. Requires the measure to be used to report data annually on student growth for students in grades 4-8.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
- Increases Medicaid reimbursement rates for direct care service providers, such as home healthcare workers, to $17/hr in FY24 and $18/hr in FY25. They currently make $13/hr.
- Increases the Medicaid reimbursement rate for neonatal, newborn services to at least 75% of Medicare rates.
- Requires Medicaid to reimburse remote ultrasounds and fetal nonstress tests.
- Requires the Ohio Department of Medicaid to establish and administer a supplemental payment program for emergency medical services providers.
- Expands Medicaid Buy-In for Workers With Disabilities to provide coverage for workers with disabilities aged 65 and older.
- Establishes a Medicaid lodging program for children with special needs and their families.
Maternal / Child / Infant Health
- Provides continuous Medicaid coverage for children aged 0 - 3.
- Expands eligibility for the Program for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs to individuals up to the age of 24 in FY24 and age 25 in FY25.
- Provides a $50 million investment of ARPA funds into pediatric behavioral health.
Child Care / Early Childhood Education
- Increases the initial eligibility for publicly funded child care to 150% FPL for children with special needs.
- Invests $30 million over the biennium in Child Care Infrastructure Grants for communitie   s with high infant mortality rates.
- Invests $30 million over the biennium in Early Childhood Education funds to build capacity for pre-K children.
Child Welfare / Food / Public Assistance
- Allows child support to follow the child in third-party caretaker situations, such as kinship caregiving.
- Earmarks up to $39.55 million per fiscal year for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.
- Expands eligibility for the Ohio Works First program to all pregnant women.
- Earmarks $40 million for Health Aging Grants, one-time grants to help our elderly age in place.
- Expands MyCare Ohio to all counties.
Health / Other
- Creates a DeafBlind Fund pilot program to recruit and train support service providers and connect them with deaf-blind individuals.
- Provides funding for rental assistance, technology initiatives for individuals with disabilities.
- Invests $1 million in one-time grants for individuals with disabilities, distributed through the centers for independent living.
- Creates a Parkinson’s Disease registry.
- Creates a stroke registry and database.
- Earmarks $2.5 million each fiscal year for the creation of a Center for Community Health Worker Excellence.
The Governor made 44 line-item vetoes in the budget over the July 4th holiday weekend. HB 33 has now been signed into law and will be effective for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025.