Governor Mike DeWine introduced the second state budget of his term on February 1. DeWine highlighted the ways his administration’s proposal to utilize one-time federal dollars to buoy the economy and support infrastructure will help the state navigate its way out of the pandemic and resulting economic crisis. The budget includes continued support for many major initiatives from DeWine’s first state budget including H2Ohio, programs focused on the health and wellbeing of children and support for local health departments in the midst of the pandemic.
Federal Medicaid dollars have been enormously beneficial for the state’s finances and have prevented the need to make cuts across the budget
Below are a few highlights of the budget as it relates to health and human services. These are items we’ll be closely monitoring as the budget makes its way through the legislature.
- Nearly 71 percent of funding in the Medicaid budget come from federal dollars. DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted highlighted in their budget press conference how enhanced federal Medicaid dollars have been enormously beneficial for the state’s finances and have prevented the need to make cuts across the budget.
- The executive budget continues to support children in many ways. It includes increased funding in the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) budget for the Help Me Grow home visiting program; for protecting lead poisoning in children and for infant mortality reduction efforts. In the Ohio Department of Education’s budget there is increased funding for the student wellness and success initiative, and across the Ohio Departments of Medicaid, Job and Family Services and Developmental Disabilities’ budgets there is funding to address the needs of multi-system youth.
- The budget includes support for local health departments to modernize their infrastructure. The pandemic has laid bare many deficiencies, one of which is the data infrastructure of health departments used for critical public health efforts. This includes monitoring and reporting on infectious diseases, and the contact tracing and vaccine distribution required to mitigate those diseases.
- Overall there is a significant amount of federal funding continuing to flow into multiple state agencies to support the health and economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. DeWine and Husted noted the state is carefully managing these funds and any one-time dollars will be used for one-time expenses related to the pandemic and its aftermath.
There will be much more to unpack about the budget in the coming days and weeks. Hearings on the budget bill will begin on February 4 in the House Finance committee, with testimony from the director of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, Kim Murnieks, the director of the Ohio Department of Taxation, Jeff McClain and the director of the Legislative Service Commission, Wendy Zhan, although we don’t anticipate that we’ll see the legislative text of the budget bill at that time.