ABLE plans rally to address key concerns about Ohio budget
by Tim Walters

(Plain Press, April 2007) It’s budget time in Ohio again. Every two years, Ohio’s Governor and members of the House and Senate work to lay out Ohio’s budget, our spending plan as to how we will deliver critical services to our residents. The process began last week when Governor Strickland gave his State of the State address and provided us with his budget.

That document will now move to the Ohio House, then to the Senate and back to the Governor for his signature. Those who have worked on budgets know that what comes out of the House and Senate may differ considerably not only from each other but from the Governor.  The intent is to come up with a version that all agree or at least can live with for final approval by June 30th.

Ohio’s budget must balance (the amount we plan to spend must equal the revenue we expect to receive.) Revenue is down in Ohio primarily due to a large number of tax cuts provide the wealthy and large corporations over the past years.

So where does your voice come into this picture? Once again, a coalition of individuals, grassroots groups and community organizations have come together to form ABLE (Advocates for Budget Legislation Equality) to raise the voice of the people in this budget process. Over the next weeks ABLE will meet with a variety of state legislators, write letters, make phone calls and provide testimony on various parts of the budget. There will also be a rally day in Columbus near the end of April.

ABLE’s platform has been developed based upon input from community members.  The unmet health care needs of many of our adults, especially those who are without dependents were a key concern of community members. ABLE supports the Governor’s budget, which includes increasing health care eligibility for parents to 100% of poverty, children to 300% and pregnant women to 200%.

We also support his efforts to restore option services to parents under 100% of poverty, better fund the PASSPORT program-a program that provides services to allow elderly to remain independent in their homes and increase funding to day care.

However, there are some things that are not in his budget and should be. Health care for adults without dependents is not in the budget. This area has long been ignored. We feel it should be included and that this budget should contain a provision providing health care for all adults to 200% of poverty. We will also be speaking out for full funding of adult protective services, no cuts in senior community services, dollars to assist in the obtaining of ID cards, and more adequate assistance to kinship care givers. None of these items are currently in the Governor’s budget.

A key part of our program is a request to the Governor and our legislators to take specific steps to increase revenue to enable these programs to be funded. Our main task is to convince the State Legislature to defer personal income tax cuts scheduled to take effect in the next two years. To low and moderate income residents, this will mean the loss of under $50 a year. The majority of the dollars gained by deferring these cuts will come from those making over $500,000 a year. Without additional revenue, we would lose many valuable and needed services.

For those who want to become involved in ABLE and/or help us to spread the word and gain support, you can contact Vicky or Andrea at 431-6070, Amy at 771-5077 or Tim at 631-5800.  We can provide speakers for groups of any size, petitions, ABLE meeting dates and other ways to get involved.  
Tim Walters is a community organizer at the May Dugan Center.


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