Speaker 0 00:00:00 <silence>
Speaker 1 00:00:17 Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Just a Bite. It's Sarah from the Ohio Association of Food Banks. This week, after about two months of resting and recharging after the state budget, I was joined with three advocates to discuss how their priorities landed in the budget and what opportunities there are to support the implementation of new programs and policies, and engage the State General Assembly to make improvements. I'm joined by Beth Hess at Groundwork Ohio. Tim Johnson at the Ohio Poverty Law Center, and Jordan Ballinger at Disability Rights Ohio. Take a listen.
Speaker 2 00:01:08 Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for, um, just a Bites State budget recap. It has been a bit longer than a month since the budget was passed and signed. I think we're all kind of breathing a sigh of relief regardless on where our priorities landed. Um, has everyone been able to catch up on sleep? Has everyone been able to clear out their inboxes?
Speaker 3 00:01:36 Yeah, so I went on vacation almost immediately after the budget, uh, was signed. So I think I'm doing pretty well.
Speaker 2 00:01:43 That's
Speaker 4 00:01:44 Awesome. I'm in the same boat, Tim. I found myself on vacation waiting for vetoes. So maybe next, next budget. I'll schedule that, uh, a week later. <laugh>,
Speaker 5 00:01:55 I have not went on vacation yet. My vacation starts next week, but I did get my biannual post budget cold that I'm still fighting today because of the lack of sleep that I had for six months.
Speaker 2 00:02:09 Yep. Been there, done that, that's for sure. Um, yeah, that's good that you guys are able to take some time off. Um, I know that the budget was passed a little bit later than usual. Um, but before we get into the policy details, why don't we all go around, um, and introduce yourselves and your organizations. Um, Tim, would you wanna start us off?
Speaker 3 00:02:37 Sure. Uh, my name is Tim Johnson. I work for the Ohio Poverty Law Center, um, which is a statewide nonpartisan nonprofit, um, that works in coordination with Ohio's legal aid services programs. Um, so very nice to to see everybody today.
Speaker 4 00:02:52 I'm Beth Hess. I'm the Managing Director of Policy at Groundwork Ohio. We're a nonpartisan policy, research and advocacy organization dedicated to young children and their families. So our work focus, uh, focuses exclusively on policies that impact children and families from prenatal to H five. And, uh, we're so happy to be here with y'all today. Yes,
Speaker 5 00:03:14 Thank you. Hi, I'm Jordan, uh, baller. I'm the policy Director for Disability Rights Ohio. Uh, d r o is the protection and advocacy system for the state, which is something that probably not a lot of people know, but we essentially were created by Congress and have this designation, uh, from the governor. And our mission is to advocate for an equitable Ohio people with disclose.
Speaker 2 00:03:38 Great. Thanks everyone. Um, I think we have a great variety of issue areas and, um, perspectives represented today. Um, as a reminder to our listeners, the state budget is the largest piece of legislation. Our State House passes, um, happens every two years, an odd number years, and reflects the state's priorities and values. Unlike other states, Ohio's budget is very policy heavy. I'm sure we'll get into that. Um, while still allocating funding for various programs and agencies, a variety of advocates, special interest groups, companies and constituents all follow the state budget and advocate on behalf of their issues. So, Beth, I was wondering if you could kick us off and talk a little bit about, um, how groundwork Ohio's priorities landed in the budget.
Speaker 4 00:04:32 Sure, I'd be happy to. So we, we definitely had mixed results this budget season. So on the one hand, uh, we're deeply disappointed that childcare continues to take a backseat and remains underfunded and in crisis, the final budget only increased eligibility and publicly funded childcare by 3%, putting Ohio at the bottom of the list for access to childcare in our country. And the governors proposed $150 million. ARPA investment in childcare scholarships wasn't included in the final budget, but we also had some wins to celebrate. So, for example, in the health space, the budget included continuous Medicaid coverage for eligible children birth to age three, and a Medicaid reimbursement pathway for doulas. And in the early learning space, there was historic expansion in public preschool as well as a $30 million in investment in infant and toddler childcare infrastructure. So overall, we would have preferred the budget for programs for young children and families align more closely with the governor's proposal.
Speaker 4 00:05:40 This included substantial increase investments in help me grow home, visiting early childhood mental health consultants, and increasing access to publicly funded childcare to 160% of the federal poverty level. Unfortunately, many of these investments were lost early in the house and further cuts to these proposals were made in the Senate and ultimately sustained in the final budget. So the last aspect of the budget I'd like to note is in that policy space that you noted. Uh, this budget is not unlike many before it where substantive policy is being made, um, throughout and at groundwork, we continue to be disappointed by the actions of the Senate to chip away at the investments in quality that Ohio has made for its childcare system. We were pleased that the governor used his authority to veto one of these harmful provisions that would've exempted 80% of childcare providers from participating in the quality rating improvement system, which is called Step Up to Quality in Ohio. But unfortunately, provisions added in the Senate that continue to downplay the qualifications needed to care for and educate young children remained.
Speaker 2 00:06:53 Yeah. Thanks for that overview, Beth. I, um, I know that you guys fought hard for the, the childcare piece, um, but I know at least at the association we're really thrilled to hear about the, the doula coverage and coverage for kids H zero to three. That's really, um, exciting and a huge improvement. Jordan, I was wondering, I know that you guys had a hard fought budget. Um, I was wondering how did disability rides Ohio's priorities land?
Speaker 5 00:07:26 Sure. So our priorities in the budget going in, were really focused on the direct care worker wages. So people with disabilities in the state, um, our aging population rely on in-home caregivers. Um, and historically those wages have been really low and they haven't necessarily been at parity across the systems either. So people working in the Medicaid system were paid differently than the aging system were paid differently than the developmental disability system. And disabled folk in the state are served by all three of these systems. I think most people think that the DD system is where people with disabilities are mostly served, and it's just not entirely true. All three of those, uh, systems have waiver programs for people to live independently in their homes and communities. So about our, our last budget, we formed the Ohio H C B SS coalition, along with a lot of partners to fight for an increase in provider rates.
Speaker 5 00:08:31 And with the hope of direct care worker wages going up, there were rates that were increased, but we didn't see a lot of wage growth. And with the competitive market as it is, where you are able to start out at like best food restaurants for 17, $18 an hour, it's really difficult to compete when your average wage is about 12 bucks an hour, um, doing a pretty difficult job caring for for another person. So D r O really focused on, um, organizing disabled advocates who were impacted by these systems to go to the State House and address these issues in front of legislators. Luckily, the governor also was, is very much aware, his administration is aware of the low wages that have been occurring. A lot of advocates had been talking to the administration for years. So the governor's proposed budget included a rate increase and increase in wages.
Speaker 5 00:09:27 I think it was about 14 to $15 an hour, um, or yeah, 14 and 15. And the house increased that to, um, 17 to $18 an hour, and then the Senate, um, provided additional dollar amount for, um, local county dollars for the developmental disability systems to bring it up to $19 an hour. So our ask initially was 20. We didn't get to 20 obviously, however, we got really, really, really close. And this is one of the largest investments in the Health and Human services, uh, specifically the home and community-based service system in state history. So we're really excited, really happy to see this. And we're really hoping that this takes a lot of pressure on the crisis that's been occurring within our service systems and ensuring people with disabilities in the state are able to live independently within their homes and communities and not face unnecessary institutionalization, which had been occurring because individuals were unable to access home care providers. Or if they weren't being, they weren't faced with institutionalization, they they would go hours and days without care in their homes. And that's just unacceptable. And it shows a lack of political courage to take on an issue that is very important. And I'm very happy that the General Assembly and the governor made this a top priority of their budget this year.
Speaker 2 00:11:00 I think that we should prioritize, you know, making sure people have livable wages, especially those who are caring, um, for, for others, and, um, really, um, prioritize people's wishes in terms of living independently and being in their homes and communities instead of, um, you know, going to an institution. So I'm, I'm really, we're really happy to, um, hear that there was a substantial increase. Tim, I was wondering if you could, um, talk to us a little bit about the Ohio Poverty Law Center's priorities and how they ended up in the budget.
Speaker 3 00:11:38 Sure. I think like a lot of advocacy organizations, it was a bit of a mixed bag, some good, some bad. Um, there were some, some things we were thrilled to see included. Um, one of the things was strengthening the rights of nursing home residents, specifically, um, around nursing home residents who are being discharged. Um, our legal aid attorneys that we work with have seen instances where, um, people who are being discharged from nursing homes are often sent to places like homeless shelters or they're sent to live with family members who do not have the ability to care for them. Or in some extreme cases, we've seen them literally just kind of dumped out in parks with, with no resources available to them. Um, and there's a weird technicality in the law that didn't allow for, um, whether or not they had a safe place to go to, to be considered as part of their discharge plan.
Speaker 3 00:12:26 Um, and so to see that corrected in the budget, working with members of the house specifically, um, to get that included was, was great to see. I know it came out in the Senate, but was put back in in conference committee, so that was great. Um, we were happy that that was included. Um, we were also happy to see, um, an issue we've been working on for quite some time, um, around school record transfers also be included in the state budget. Um, and this is a requirement where, um, if a student goes from one school to another, um, they're supposed to receive their student record within five days, um, of essentially gonna that new school. Um, and we know that we live in a time sort of post covid where, um, the housing issues is, are real shaky for people. Um, and so people are constantly seeing themselves moving.
Speaker 3 00:13:10 Um, and it's important that when students and their families are moving, that record follows them. So that way if that student has an I E P or if that student's in a gifted program, or if that student has some issues, um, with behavioral, um, incidents, all of those things are transferred in a timely manner so that child can receive whatever resources it's that may be. So, um, we were very happy to see that that was included. There was some language around there allowing for a record to be held up. Um, there's a certain amount of school debt that was incurred and, you know, that's, that's sort of a compromise language that was come to, but we're just happy over to see the issue addressed. Um, and then there were some things that, uh, didn't get into the budget that we were a little disappointed by.
Speaker 3 00:13:48 So one of the main ones was the renovation, repair, and painting rule, um, which is a requirement that if a contractor's doing work, um, in a home that has been built before 1978 we're led, paint was outlawed. Um, and that work is going to disturb the paint in the home, um, they must take basic lead safe practices to ensure they're not accidentally poisoning a child. Um, and that is something that is supposed to be enforced by the federal government, but they don't do a great job of enforcement. Some states have the ability to take that on themselves. Um, this has been a priority for the Governor DeWine for some time. This is the second budget. He's tried to do it. Um, O D H is ready and willing to take the program on just to make sure kids are being safe. Um, but unfortunately we saw that provision removed in the Senate once again and, and was not placed back in during conference, um, which is incredibly disappointing.
Speaker 3 00:14:35 Um, we wanna make sure that all kids are safe, um, from something they have no control over, which is being poisoned by lead, um, and all the harmful effects that it'll have for the rest of their lives. So we were, we were disappointed to not see that included again. And then we were also disappointed by a veto, um, governor DeWine issued around, um, noncompliance, licensure, suspension. Um, there are instances where people who have driver's license, um, can have them suspended for not having insurance or driving without a license, things of that nature. And there's an amnesty program, um, that allows them to apply to get their license restored and get their fees reduced so they can get back on the road in a safe manner. Um, originally the, the filing fee is $50, then it increases substantially after, um, that if they have to use the program again, we wanted to standardize that fee, so it's a flat $50 going forward. Um, but unfortunately we didn't see that happen.
Speaker 2 00:15:30 Thanks for that, Tim. Yeah. Um, those all seem like common sense, um, reforms that would be really beneficial to the folks that, um, need them. And, uh, that's a fan. You all have illustrated that it was absolutely a mixed bag in terms of the budget, in terms in terms of how things ended up. Um, but happy to hear there's some quite a few wins. Unfortunately, unfortunately, advocates work does not stop with the bus budgets passage. Um, we have to ensure that implementation of programs, policies, and funding are implemented equitably and thoughtfully. Um, what do <inaudible> service for the kids have to look out for? The budget provisions are implemented, what role can we play?
Speaker 4 00:16:22 Yeah, so, um, one of the outcomes of the budget was the creation of new, the new Department of Children and Youth. And so this is something that groundwork is paying really close attention to and participating in stakeholder conversations. And the new agency has until January, 2025 to be fully stood up. So it's really important that organizations like ours and our partners stay engaged and keep the new leadership of this agency accountable to the children and families they're now going to be serving.
Speaker 3 00:16:55 Yeah, and to, to follow up on Beth Point, there's a, there's another new organization, our department being created, which is the Department of Education and Workforce, um, which was rolled into the state budget and essentially will take over most of the duties of the former State Board of Education. Well, it's not former, they still exist, but they're former duties. They, they have much less power now going forward. Um, and so it's going to be incumbent on us to see as a new director is chosen for that department, um, and how things sort of switch up on the inside and, and the different things that they choose to do and different priorities they tend to implement. Um, just making sure that there's proper oversight on that going forward, I think is also gonna be very key, especially, um, for, for our organization who works pretty closely with the Department of Education. So watching how that department transforms, um, is, is gonna be important to watch.
Speaker 5 00:17:45 Uh, for, for us, the big thing is the direct care worker wages were technically vetoed, uh, in the budget bill. However, there the veto message indicated the administration will still be implementing those increases just outside of statute, which is historically on par with what the governor has done. He has always vetoed the statutory rate increases and wanted to provide more flexibility for the administration. So the administration has already indicated they will be doing increases, but I think the onus is still on us and incumbent upon us to continue to monitor and ensure that what the intent of the legislature was and the governor was, is fully implemented and to watch to make sure that direct care workers actually do have wage increases in the long term so that our service system is sustainable.
Speaker 2 00:18:39 Yeah, thanks for, for those. I completely agree. And I think all three of those, um, issues and um, pieces of implementation are going to take a while. Um, and so really require, um, all of us to, you know, be engaged to Beth's point all the way up until the next budget. Um, in terms of implementation, so, you know, we've talked about how this budget is a mixed bag. Um, I wanted to talk about, you know, what are some of the fixes that can be done? So what should the general assembly reconsider when they come back to the State House from summer break? Um, what would you suggest of an alternative?
Speaker 3 00:19:23 So I really think that the state legislature needs to revisit their position on implementing R RRP and transferring that, uh, authority over to the state of Ohio to enforce. Um, this is the second budget in a row in which, uh, the provision was removed, um, from the state budget. Um, and it is increasingly difficult to understand what the opposition to, uh, R RRP is. Um, it is one of the most important primary prevention tools that we have in the state Ohio. And for folks that may be listening, and dunno what I mean by what I, when I say primary prevention currently, the way it works now, um, is that if a child becomes lead poison, um, there's an inspection done to see where the source of the lead poisoning is, and there's a requirement that the owner of the property get the hazard address. And if they don't do so in a certain amount of time, um, and the property can essentially be condemned.
Speaker 3 00:20:15 Um, but that only happens once a child is poisoned, right? It takes a child to be poisoned for the state of Ohio to act, and that makes no sense. Um, primary prevention gets at the source of the problem before a child is ever poisoned. Um, so making sure that when people go into older homes to do work that may disturb lead paint or doing so in a way that doesn't poison the child is key. Um, because there is just all sorts of harmful downstream effects that happen when a child is poisoned. Um, when they're poisoned, we know that there's cognitive issues, there's physical issues, they're less likely to be ready for kindergarten, they're less likely to be reading at a third grade level. They're more likely to inter interact with the judicial system, both, um, youth and as adults. They're more likely to need public benefits when they're older and to be unhoused, there's just all these negative downstream effects that come from, um, childhood led poisoning.
Speaker 3 00:21:06 Um, and so for the state of Ohio to repeatedly, um, not want to take the, the enforcement of this rule that every contractor should already be following, um, seriously is, is disheartening. So I would really hope that some of our champions in the legislature and there are a few who really do, uh, care about childhood lead poisoning and have been fighting actively to, to make sure Ohio's doing everything he can, um, will want to revisit this issue in the fall and throughout the rest of the GA to, to really make sure that we're implementing this and helping the kids need it.
Speaker 4 00:21:38 Tim, I couldn't agree with you more. Um, and I'm so glad you took on lead poisoning 'cause then I can take on Workforce <laugh>. Um, so, uh, we too at groundwork are, um, agree with Tim that we'd like to see the legislature take up that issue. Um, but we're also concerned about the early learning workforce and we'd really like to see the general assembly acknowledge the year long legislative study committee on publicly funded childcare and step up to quality that they created in the last budget. So the study committee provided recommendations in December, 2023. At this same time the Senate introduced provisions for childcare that conflicted with what was being recommended. Um, and really nobody has gone back to the study committee recommendations since. And so, um, we know the study committee heard from childcare providers and families from across the state and we'd really like to see the general assembly work to address those recommendations and not, uh, just have that report on a shelf.
Speaker 5 00:22:39 One thing that was missing from the budget advocacy specifically within what the legislature was doing around direct care worker wages, was, um, what was being asked by a lot of advocates was the creation of admission to study implementation of these wage increases with the overall impact would be, um, the Senate actually put in an amendment that would create this kind of task force. Uh, ironically it did not include anyone with a disability on the task force. Uh, however, it was a step, right? They, they included an amendment that would create a task force, they amended it a little bit to add one additional individual, but then it was removed from the final budget that was eventually passed by the general assembly. I, and I think a lot of advocates would like to see the general assembly create this kind of task force. We're pumping in a lot of money into the home and community service system, this budget, we are providing historic wage increases.
Speaker 5 00:23:43 While we're hoping that there are going to be historic wage increases, we don't have a lot of oversight as to what this looks like and how the impact will be in the long term. It would be great if the legislature would create some kind of commission or task force, or even if the administration creates some kind of internal work group, comprised of a majority of people who are receiving services from these service systems along with advocates, along with providers, to really look at what is working, is it working, how is it working? And what are solutions to ensure we don't get back to where we were prior to this budget where we were in a crisis. 'cause I don't think anyone wants to see our home based service system go back into crisis mode. We should really be looking forward and seeing what are policies that we can implement over the long term that ensures this system is sustainable.
Speaker 2 00:24:51 Yeah, thanks for all of those. Um, I wanted to, um, talk about, you know, like what kept you energized and inspired. I know that it's a marathon <laugh> trying to follow the budget and advocate on behalf of the folks that you all serve. Um, so what kept you energized and inspired? Um, tell us your favorite memory, whether that be with your teams or other advocates or folks with lived experience.
Speaker 5 00:25:23 So like I mentioned at the top, we actually created a new position at V R O, uh, the community engagement coordinator position, which is really designed to organize disabled advocates in the state and get them involved in policy making decisions because they have a more compelling story to tell about the service systems that they're in than I do. And they look differently than I do. They sound differently than I do. Um, and they are just more, more powerful in their voice when they're in front of the legislator talking and they're the legislator's, actual constituents, right? So this budget we really honed in on organizing these advocates, providing them training and getting them into the legislature. And we had such great success. So starting out with the governor's introduced budget was already, um, you know, something that made you feel really good because it's the first time that a governor has looked at this system and been like, Hey, we're really going to tackle these wages and increased them in a meaningful way.
Speaker 5 00:26:38 And then you see the legislature continue to move forward with increasing them even more in both the House and the Senate. And I think all of this has to do with the advocacy that was done and the amount of new disabled advocates that have been folded into this movement. I have never in my career at D R O seen so many disabled advocates at the State House hearing, after hearing, after hearing, telling their stories of why direct care workers need higher wages to keep us in our homes and our communities. And it's on the onus of the GA to ensure that that is occurring by increasing these rates. Uh, 'cause the GA does have control around rate increases. And so seeing these advocates come out of the fray have panel after panel and talk about this need really just kept you energized the whole way through.
Speaker 5 00:27:36 Uh, because it was the first time that you didn't really feel alone in this fight and you didn't feel like you were the only one making this ass. But it was really everyone collectively working together saying the same thing over and over and over again. And it was just really powerful to see young people in our community come out for the first time ever doing advocacy and make these compelling arguments as to why direct care workers needed higher wages. So it really just keeps you energized, the whole six month process. Uh, and it was incredible to see and it paid off in the end. We got higher wages and I cannot be more proud of all of the work that, uh, these disabled advocates did over the past as well. I guess the six month period that was the state budget.
Speaker 3 00:28:26 So in terms of what kept me energized, probably enough energy drinks to kill a herd, elephants, it's usually about what I consume every budget cycle. So slowly trying to wean myself off of that. Um, and I certainly appreciate Jordan talking about being able to bring in actual constituents, um, to the budget process. Um, I wanna give a special shout out to the Ohio Left Kids Coalition who had an advocacy day during, um, the budget this year we brought families in to talk about their lived experience. Um, and I think that that was great for the legislators to get to hear, um, from the people that their policies affected. So I'm always, um, really happy when that gets to happen. But I think the thing that really kept me going, and this is gonna seem like a weird answer, but just hanging there with me. Um, so I used to work in the State House.
Speaker 3 00:29:13 Um, one of our other policy advocates, Danielle, um, also used to work at the State House and then our executive director, Susan, um, has been around in state government for, for a very long time. So we're all very familiar with the budget process. Um, but one of our other employees, Zach, comes from the legal aid space. So he is not as familiar with the budget process. Um, and so this was his first budget and watching him slowly get to see how the budget unfolds and all of the craziness that comes with it and how, you know, you can be looking at the budget from the executive version and the house drops their sub bill and then nothing is the same. And then how that completely changes with the omni amendment and then they do the whole thing over in the Senate and then there's conference after that. It's just getting to watch somebody go through a budget cycle and sometimes be reminded like, oh yeah, this is normal to me, but to a person who's never experienced what the state budget is like, this process is kind of insane. And having to explain to him that technically the budget's supposed to be an appropriations document, but it's a policy document with some appropriations in it and having him internalize that was, was a lot of fun to, to witness. So
Speaker 2 00:30:20 That's a great answer, Tim. I, this was my first like full budget. I, um, have had jobs where I've come in at the tail end of <laugh> the budget, so I also had that same experience, so that's funny that you mention that on Beth, would you?
Speaker 4 00:30:38 Yeah. Uh, so this was the first budget for groundwork with a fully functioning center for Family Voice. And this meant we were able to include family members throughout the whole process, which was really exciting. Um, so the best day at the State House for me this budget season was seeing three of our parents in our Family Action network providing testimony, um, to the House Finance subcommittee on, on Health and Human Services. And um, I think what's even more exciting about that is that one of their daughters was able to watch it live in her US government class. And so it was just really incredible to see this family sharing their story, advocating for their community and knowing that their community was totally behind them, cheering them on, uh, back in the classroom. So that was super energizing at a time when we needed a pump up of energy and it really, you know, kind of helped us to move forward. But also I'd be remiss to not mention our advocacy day as well. Uh, we hosted over 400, um, child and family advocates at the State House for an incredible day of advocacy. Um, I've just never experienced energy like that, um, in the atrium of the State House. And so that certainly, um, kept us going as well.
Speaker 2 00:32:01 That's great. Yeah, we had a, um, state House day as well and that was probably my favorite memory. Um, we brought in a couple of folks with lived experience and I was in a few meetings with them and it was just so powerful to see them, um, talk to their, um, legislators and make sure their voice. So thanks all for, um, sharing those memories with. Um, and lastly, I just wanted to give you all an opportunity to tell the listeners where they can find you and your organizations and your work. So, so Beth, would you wanna share?
Speaker 4 00:32:41 Yeah, you can find Groundworks [email protected]
and of course we are on all of the major social media platforms. The website, though is a great place to review the resources that we use during budget advocacy, including county fact sheets, uh, for birth to age five statistics for each county across our state. I'd also highly suggest taking some time to review our 2023 early childhood dashboard. It's a first of its kind accounting, incorporating more than 60 metrics across six domains, spotlighting the immense challenges and broad inequities faced by families in our state. And if you're interested in learning more about the work Groundwork is doing with families, you should definitely check out our podcast. It's called Amplified and it features conversations with our Center for Family Voice Director Lawrence Witherspoon and members of our Family Action Network.
Speaker 5 00:33:36 Sure, yeah. So you can find [email protected]
. We have all of the major social media. We are still on Twitter now x uh, so you can still find us there. And, uh, more importantly, if you are wanting to get involved in the disability rights advocacy space, we have a public policy resource center on our web webpage, the details, all of the major initiatives slash policy objectives. We're working on how to get involved guides to the State House accessibility toolkits for Zoom meetings or whatever. Just a lot of resources there, uh, for you to get involved, find your legislator, all of those things. So disability rights ohio.org, and you'll find everything there.
Speaker 2 00:34:25 Perfect. Thanks Jordan. And then Tim.
Speaker 3 00:34:28 Alright, you can find us at Ohio poverty law center.org. Um, we too have all of the major social media platforms, Facebook, whatever Twitter is now, um, Instagram. We do not yet have a TikTok. Um, I say yet though, we'll see if that that also happens. Um, and please feel free when you go to our website to, if you wanna keep track of what it is that we're doing, what we're working on, what our priorities are, um, where we are, uh, throughout the, the legislative process and throughout the rest of the ga. Um, feel free to sign up for our newsletter, which you can do right from our website. Um, and that will keep you up to date with everything, um, Ohio Property Law Centers working on.
Speaker 2 00:35:07 Great. Thanks so much and thanks to all three of you for chatting with me a little bit today and for all the work that you, your organizations do.
Speaker 4 00:35:18 Thanks Sarah.
Speaker 5 00:35:19 Thanks.
Speaker 3 00:35:20 Thanks for having us.
Speaker 1 00:35:29 I hope you enjoyed learning about the priorities of our partners and what opportunities they see to engage. Before I left, I wanted to share an update on what the budget meant for Ohio's Food Bank Network and the Ohioans we serve. Ohio's food banks are so grateful to receive an additional $7.5 million per year for the next two years. With that funding, we'll be able to purchase Ohio Grown produce shelf stable products and center of the plate items to distribute to food insecure Ohioans. We are also thrilled to see that the legislature and the governor thought that access to school meals is a priority worthy of investment. The state will now be covering the cost of reduced price, school, breakfast and lunch. This means that approximately 80,000 students who were receiving reduced price school meals, we'll get them for free this school year. This is a meaningful first step in making sure all Ohio kids receive the nutrition they need to learn, grow, and thrive. In the next episode, we'll be covering this policy change in depth and what this means for Ohio kids. Learn more about the advocates I interviewed their organizations and their priorities by looking at the show notes. Thanks for listening, and we'll talk to you soon.