The General Assembly Approves the State Budget
Last week, the House and Senate approved a compromised version of the two-year, $80 billion budget for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023. The final version of House Bill 110, signed by Governor Mike DeWine, kept key investments in important programs and rejected provisions that would make it harder for Ohioans to rebound from the economic fall out of the pandemic. Many of our key advocacy priorities were addressed in the final budget including:
- The funding needed to implement the new Medicaid Managed Care contracts and a rejection of the effort to require the Ohio Department of Medicaid to re-bid the contracts.
- The expansion of Medicaid coverage to new mothers for 12 months postpartum.
- An investment of $250 million for the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant program to expand infrastructure in unserved areas. Language that sought to keep municipalities from providing broadband services to their residents was removed.
- The removal of an asset test and change reporting for food assistance eligibility.
- An increase in initial eligibility for publicly funded childcare to 142 percent of the federal poverty level.
- The removal of language that attempted to overturn the right to counsel for indigent parents in adoption proceedings.
- Investments in lead abatement programs.
- The removal of language that would change the valuation of subsidized residential rental property for tax purposes.
- The inclusion of the main components of the Fair School Funding Plan.
- Kinship Caregiver Program funding restored to $10 million
- $1 million of General Revenue funding for legal aid to serve veterans and those impacted by substance use disorders.
Although the budget could have done more to support Ohioans as they recover from the economic and health impacts of the pandemic, we are encouraged by these investments. We will continue to work with lawmakers to enact policies and make investments to address the pandemic’s devastating and disproportionate impact on low-income Ohioans who were already struggling.
American Rescue Plan Dollars Allocated in House Bill 168
Ohio received the first of two state fiscal recovery fund payments from the American Rescue Plan. The payment totaled $2.7 billion. Before recessing for the summer, the legislature approved HB168 which allocated a large portion of these dollars. Without any committee hearings or opportunity for public input, HB168 made the following appropriations:
- At least $1.47 billion to the unemployment compensation trust fund. The final amount will be certified on Aug. 31, 2021 and could be more than $1.6 billion. The money will pay off Ohio’s unemployment compensation debt to the federal government before interest can begin accruing.
- $250 million for the Water and Sewer Quality Program. The money will be used to provide grants to political subdivisions for water and sewer infrastructure projects. The grants require a local match.
- $84 million for pediatric behavioral health. The appropriation will be allocated to pediatric behavioral healthcare facilities for infrastructure and operating costs.
Additionally, HB168 allocated the $422 million local recovery relief dollars for small cities, townships, and villages.
It is unclear how the remaining American Rescue Plan dollars will be allocated or what the timeline is to make those decisions. The state will have more than $500 million left of its first payment and will receive another $2.7 billion payment in May 2022.