The Center for Community Solutions’ state legislative district profiles provide a wealth of economic, health, demographic and educational information that can sometimes explain how a state legislator might view the world and the issues they might focus during their legislative service.
Last year I was appointed by Governor John Kasich to serve on the Ohio Advisory Council for Aging. The purpose of this council is to serve as the official state advisory council on aging for the state, and to advise and assist the Department of Aging in carrying out its many important responsibilities. In light of this appointment (and the fact that I turned 60 last year) I wanted to take a closer look at data in our profiles that relates to older adults and also people with disabilities.
There are four relevant data points in the Community Solutions profiles; the number of people older than age 65, the number of people over the age of 65 who live below the poverty line, the number of Social Security recipients and the number of people with a disability (not all of these people are older than the age of 65). I reviewed the top ten districts for each of these categories.
|District||Representative||65+||65+ Below Federal Poverty Level||With Disability||With Social Security Income|
|16||Greenspan, David (Dave)||X|
|56||Miller, III, Joseph||X|
|6||Robinson, Jr., Phillip||X|
Two districts, District 58 represented by Rep. Michelle Lepore-Hagan (D) and District 90 represented by Rep. Brian Baldridge (R) appear on three lists – highest number of people older than the age of 65 and poor, highest number of people with a disability and the highest number of households with Social Security income. It’s important to note that the two last categories aren’t exclusively made up of older adults, but Area Agencies on Aging serve adults older than the age of 60 and those between 18 and 59 with a disability.
District 58 represented by Rep. Michelle Lepore-Hagan (D) and District 90 represented by Rep. Brian Baldridge (R) appear on three lists – highest number of people older than the age of 65 and poor, highest number of people with a disability and the highest number of households with Social Security income.
Even though the districts are far apart geographically, one at the southern tip of the state and the other along the border with Pennsylvania, they share many demographic and economic characteristics. They both have median household incomes that are substantially lower than the state’s median income of $52,407, they have lower labor force participation, less connectivity to the internet and fewer people with a bachelor’s degree or higher. They are more likely than the state as whole to have a larger percentage of residents who live in deep poverty, are eligible for food bank services and/or enrolled in Medicaid. This makes policy and spending decisions related to food banks, Medicaid benefits and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) even more important.
Representatives Baldridge and Lepore-Hagan, and others representing districts with a large number of older adults, should pay close attention to Ohio Department of Aging’s budget requests – particularly state general revenue fund support for the Senior Community Services line item (GRF 490-411). This flexible line-item supports individuals who are frail and impaired but not eligible for Medicaid waiver programs (e.g. PASSPORT), and provides them with a variety of services via local Area Agencies on Aging. Services include personal care and adult day care, home-delivered and congregate meals, transportation, respite as well as other critical services. Because the funding is flexible it allows Area Agencies on Aging to create locally based innovative solutions for service delivery that better connects all of us to community as we age.
State Representative Mark Romanchuk’s (R) district ranks 9th out of 99 Ohio House districts in terms of the number of people older than the age of 65.
Funding for this line-item has decreased dramatically over the past 20 years despite Ohio’s growing older adult population. Funding was slashed in 2002 under former Governor Bob Taft and then in 2010 under former Governor Ted Strickland. Governor Mike DeWine is reversing course and proposed an 18.3 percent increase in funding for the Senior Community Services line-item in the first year of the budget and flat funding in the second year. If adopted by the Ohio General Assembly this would represent the highest level of funding for this line-item in a decade. The Ohio Department of Aging’s budget had its first detailed hearing on Tuesday, April 2 before the Ohio House of Representatives Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. The chair of the subcommittee is State Representative Mark Romanchuk (R). As an aside his district ranks 9th out of 99 Ohio House districts in terms of the number of people older than the age of 65.