BUDGET PLATFORM FOR FY 2002-2003
While Ohio United Way supports efforts by the Administration and General Assembly to address education needs here in Ohio, it also urges policy makers to recognize that there remain needs for those same children, their families and other Ohioans that must be addressed outside the school system. To that end, Ohio United Way supports the inclusion of the following items in Ohio’s budget for Fiscal Year 2002-2003:
- Expand Medicaid coverage for parents up to 150% of poverty. This builds upon successful efforts by Ohio United Way and others in the last budget to provide coverage up to 100% of poverty.
As time limits kick in for families receiving cash assistance, health care coverage becomes more and more important in helping families become self-sufficient. At 150% of poverty, a family of three would have an annual income of $21,225 or be earning $10.20/hour for fulltime work.
The Case Western Reserve University “leavers” study found that over half of those working after leaving cash assistance had not been offered either paid sick leave or health insurance. “Only 28% of the jobs offered both benefits. Only 38% of the jobs offered health insurance, again indicating the continued need for transitional Medicaid…It is also important to note that these benefits are reported to be offered by the employer—the respondent may not necessarily be taking advantage of the benefit due to cost.”
This proposal brings the eligibility level more in line with services offered under Ohio’s Healthy Start, Healthy Families program for kids under 19.
Cost estimates vary depending on take-up rate: using an enhanced match rate now available from the federal government, it is estimated that the first year of expansion would run $10 million, state funds, moving up to approximately $21 million for a fully-utilized program.
- Revise Ohio’s early education and care system to better meet the needs of Ohio’s working families. This encompasses three initiatives:
- Increase subsidized early education and care up to 200% of poverty. This equals $28,300/year and would match the eligibility ceiling for Healthy Start.
- Implement 30 days of presumptive eligibility for child care for parents returning to the workforce.
- Appropriate $1 million in state General Revenue Funds to create a child care facilities capital fund.
As with health care coverage, child care is another critical factor in families’ moving toward self-sufficiency as expenditures for child care now outstrip those for cash assistance.
Costs for the first two initiatives, for the most part, should be able to be covered by Ohio’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.
- Continue and increase funding for the Adult Emergency Assistance Program. The State Set-Aside Committee supports moving the eligibility level to 100% of poverty ($8,350 for a single individual or $11,250 for a couple) recognizing that that means an increase in the appropriation is necessary. The current program serves these clients up to 40% of poverty ($3,340 for one adult; $4,500 for a couple) with an appropriation of $4.2 million/year. (Figures for FY 2000 show that all but $18,417 was spent.)
This would begin to bring emergency assistance to this very needy population more in line with levels of assistance available to Ohio families and addresses ongoing comments from the field about the very low levels. There is not assistance currently available for those persons above the 40% level.
Funds for AEA are all state dollars.
- Implement a package of supports for working families that could include items such as housing subsidies, transportation assistance, wage supplements, pre- and post-employment related services.
Cost estimates are still being worked on but would hopefully be covered, at least in part, through TANF.
Ohio United Way remains committed to pursuing a state Earned Income Tax Credit—particularly in response to efforts to reduce Ohio’s personal income tax. Related to this would be efforts to enhance Ohio’s Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Both provide ways to target tax cuts to Ohioans most in need.
For questions, contact Judith Tieman Bird, Director of Public Policy for Ohio United Way, 614/224-8146 or via email at j[email protected].