Friday, February 27, 2009


Presidential Budget Highlights

Yesterday evening the White House hosted a conference call discussing programs that help vulnerable populations identified in the President’s budget. Here are some highlights by department:

Agriculture: $1bil per year for child nutrition, outreach to enroll more seniors in SNAP
Health & Human Services: Nurse home visitation, “promise neighborhoods”, increase LIHEAP funding
Housing & Urban Development: fully fund housing voucher program, capitalizing the Affordable Housing Trust Fund at $1bil initially, fully funding Community Development Block Grants
Justice: Prisoner re-entry programs, funding for the Second Chance Act
Labor: Unemployment insurance extended benefits program, transitional jobs, career pathways, job training for ex-offenders
Social Security: Increase in administrative funding to reduce backlog
Treasury: Making Work Pay and Child Care tax credits made permanent
Cross-cutting issues: reform asset tests in means testing, reduce the impact of cap & trade on low income individuals.

So what happens next? The Office of Management and Budget will continue to develop a more detailed proposal, which will be released in April and will serve as a starting point for congressional consideration of the budget resolutions and appropriations bills. Meanwhile, the budget committee will begin hearings to determine overall spending levels. We should have much more information in the coming weeks and months, and there will be lots of opportunities for advocacy. Stay tuned…

If you want to learn more about the budget process, how and when to engage in the process, and how to be most effective, attend the “Budget 101” session at the Human Services Institute in Cleveland March 13.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Our latest resource summarizes ARRA provisions

As we began to evaluate what was in the final version of latest stimulus bill, we quickly found that there was no single rundown of health, social service, and education appropriations. So we’ve created one.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is a behemoth at over 1000 pages. Looking at the bill itself and using the latest state estimates from FFIS and the Department of Education, we have produced a summary of select appropriations in the ARRA, available now on our website. We hope it will be a useful resource for advocates.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


New SBM examines critical questions

Dick Sheridan's latest "State Budgeting Matters" is now available. In it, he examines 10 critical questions that will need to be answered before the final state operating budget can be adopted. They are:

1. Whether the FY 2009 state budget will have to be rebalanced;
2. Whether the budget for the forthcoming biennium can be balanced before the current budget expires on June 30;
3. Whether the proposed FY 2010 – FY 2011 budget request is balanced;
4. How to satisfy requirements for the receipt of federal economic stimulus aid;
5. What happens if the administration’s estimates of tax receipts for the coming biennium, and the economic forecast on which they are based, are optimistic;
6. How accurate are the administration’s forecasts for Medicaid enrollments;
7. What effect will proposed revenue and spending actions have on units local government;
8. What the future implications of relying on one-time, non-recurring revenues to sustain proposed levels of spending will be;
9. What happens if current collective bargaining agreements are not changed; and
10. In the administration’s proposed budget, who wins and who loses?

Check out SBM for more info.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Congress should restore state aid

Community Solutions joined Governor Strickland and numerous other groups across the state in reaching out to our congressional delegation urging Congress to include discretionary aid to states in the final Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Here are some excerpts from our letter:
“Once again, the federal government has the opportunity – indeed responsibility – to partner with the states in responding to this deep recession. Please restore the $40 billion in state aid to the Economic Recovery Package and enable Ohio and other states to identify and provide aid where it is most urgently needed in each state….

State expenditures have grown at an annual average rate of 1.4 percent over the past five years – less than half of the rate of inflation. For these five years, the cumulative impact on state services is an overall cut of eight percent. In the meantime, Ohio’s sagging economy has placed heightened demands for basic state services by persons displaced by the economic turmoil….”

A new issue brief from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examines three tax cuts added or expanded by the Senate. They found that the Senate reduced spending by removing certain funds (including aid to states) which were well-designed to stimulate the economy. The tax cuts substituted by the Senate are not targeted and are thus unlikely to provide a substantial boost to the economy.

The ramifications of a failure of the federal government to help our state will be truly devastating. Substantial cuts in services or even outright elimination of some programs is a real possibility. Strickland’s proposed budget already cuts state employees salaries – imagine what would happen if positions had to be eliminated. At the very moment when Ohioans are most in need, our state would be unable to help. We need our federal legislators to step up and provide some relief – failing to do so would be devastating.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Groundhog Day?

In the classic movie Groundhog Day reporter Bill Murray is assigned to cover the rodent-related festivities in Punxsutawney and has to continue re-living the day until he gets it right. Ohio may be in a similar situation with its budget deficit. How ironic then that the Executive Budget came out on February 2.

True to his promise, the governor’s budget is balanced and does not include tax increases. Instead, it uses an elaborate cocktail of cuts, pay decreases, fee increases, and federal stimulus money to plug the state’s budget hole (estimated to be over $8 billion for the next biennium by CCS). But as today’s Beacon Journal rightly points out, “All of the federal money, and the new fees proposed by the governor, cannot hide the hard reality: Ohio doesn't have the continuing revenue to cover its priorities and needs.”

At the end of the day, we still have a structural deficit estimated by CCS to be in the neighborhood of $3 billion. So like Bill Murray, Ohio will keep going through the same thing until we finally get it right. Maybe now’s the time to stop the cycle?


State Budgeting Matters Examines Creative Budgeting

Now that budget season is upon us, new editions of "State Budgeting Matters" will be posted twice each month.

In the latest installment, Dick Sheridan discusses some creative ways the state budget can be balanced. He points out that, "Adverse economic times, such as the state and its citizens are now facing, can provide an opportunity to make policy decisions that would not be possible in better times". Read the whole article here.

Monday, February 02, 2009


The executive budget is here!

While the State of the State last week was interesting, today is an even more exciting day for those of us who follow the state budget process. The Governor's budget proposal is finally available! You can get both the full text of the Executive Budget Proposal for fiscal years 2010-2011 and the "Budget in Brief" highlight documents from the OBM website.

We at Community Solutions are diligently working to examine the documents, and will be posting more updates on our blog in the days and weeks to come. Check back often!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?