State Budget Bill Passes House; Includes Small APS Increase
Reported from Gongwer News Service:
Ohio's two-year operating budget is headed to the Senate after the bill (HB 49) cleared the House Tuesday. The bill passed 58-37 mostly along party lines, although a group of conservative lawmakers voted in opposition and a handful of Democrats lent their support. Republicans touted the nearly $123 billion biennial spending document as one in which growth was restrained to below the rate of inflation, and in which the House cut spending by $2.5 billion over the biennium compared to the version introduced by Gov. John Kasich. "We needed to identify our spending priorities with the limited resources we had available," Finance Chairman Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) said.
Among the changes made last week by the House Finance Committee is a modest increase of $250,000 per year for Adult Protective Services, amounting to an increase of about $2800 per county per year. The Ohio Coalition for Adult Protective Services and many other organizations and advocates have requested an increase of $7,400,000 per year (for a total of $10 million per year) which would allow for $65,000 per county per year to fund a full time APS worker, and additional dollars to fund support, outreach, education, interdisciplinary teams, and wrap around services to stabilize victims.
In another series of amendments, the House Finance Committee added language to HB 49 that appears to mirror HB 24 from the last session. It includes language that expands the definition of exploitation, adds to the list of mandatory reporters, and codifies the Elder Abuse Commission. OCAPS Policy Committee will be reviewing these changes and making recommendations to the Senate Finance Committee.
Because the House cut many line items from the Governor's proposed budget, the fact that the Adult Protective Services line item was not cut, and in fact received a small increase, can be considered a victory. Many advocates contacted legislators and testified, and their efforts showed.
Sara Junk, OCAPS Chair, submitted testimony to the House Finance Committee thanking them for their support and continuing the request for additional dollars.