Week in Review - 06/15/2018

Week in Review - 06/15/2018

FY18-19 BUDGET

The state has announced that, due to lower than expected expenditures in the Ohio Medicaid program in this fiscal year, FY18, it is able to reduce a planned cut to hospitals by nearly $1 billion -- "$956 million less than the Ohio General Assembly enacted and $402 million less than the Kasich administration originally proposed." According to the Office of Health Transformation (OHT), Ohio Medicaid updated its budget forecast in May and determined enrollment will be less than originally projected as a result of Ohio's steadily improving economy. "The reduced caseload will translate into budget savings of $354 million ($54 million state share) in 2018 and $466 million ($122 million state share) in 2019. While significant, these amounts are within 2.6 percent of the original budget in 2018 and 3.2 percent in 2019."


EDUCATION

As many as 71 programs around the state might receive grants to support youth mentorship programs after an advisory board voted Friday to recommend them as recipients of Community Connectors Grants. Applicants were allowed to request up to $150,000 for their one year programs, matching state dollars with their local dollars on a three-to-one ratio. However, as Program Administrator Kimberlee Clark noted, the program received a 61 percent cut in funding this biennium, meaning only $8 million was available to be awarded. The distribution must still be approved by Superintendent of Education Paolo DeMaria.


Superintendent Paolo DeMaria primed the pump Monday for soon-to-begin discussions with the State Board of Education for recommendations on the next biennial budget, development of which will start under this administration but will be taken over next year by a new governor. Guidance for FY20-21 is expected from the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) in July, and DeMaria predicted it will mirror that of the last budget cycle, asking agencies to submit plans for two scenarios: flat funding and a 10-percent cut.


The State Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve its strategic plan titled "EachChild=OurFuture," which lays out a broad framework for the state's educational goals, strategies and guiding principles. Included in the plan are four "domains of learning" on which education should be focused: foundational skills and knowledge; well-rounded content; reasoning; and social-emotional learning. In addition, the plan establishes eight "guiding principles" that emphasize teaching toward equity of student outcomes and 15 "strategies" designed to support Ohio's overarching education goals.


Questions about the level of precision in differentiating among scores led a State Board of Education committee to delay for one month a decision on the new testing cutoff of the third grade reading guarantee. However, schools should still know the new cut score in July, as members said they plan to seek emergency consideration so the committee and full board can vote on it in the same month.


Auditor Dave Yost should not be admitted as a formal party to litigation in which court-appointed attorneys are overseeing the final affairs of the defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), the online charter school argued in recent filings.


ELECTIONS

Ohio's process for removing voters from its voting rolls does not violate federal law, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in a 5-4 decision that pitted conservatives on the Court against its liberal wing. Groups sued the state over its practice of removing individuals from the rolls if they do not vote for two federal cycles, saying it violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) as well as the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Writing for the majority in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, Justice Samuel Alito said that Ohio's "supplemental process" does exactly what the two laws spelled out, because if a voter does not cast a ballot in a federal election, the state notifies the voter of that failure and asks for a verification that the voter still resides at the current address on the voter's registration.


However, Secretary of State Jon Husted's office Tuesday notified county boards of elections that, despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute upholding Ohio's process for removing individuals from the voter rolls, that no action is to be taken until after the November 2018 election because federal law prohibits cancelling voter registrations less than 90 days prior to a federal election. Ohio has two federal elections set: one on Aug. 7 and another on Nov. 6.


HIGHER EDUCATION

Despite the rising cost of higher education and growing student debt, both Ohio students and taxpayers profit from investment in its public universities, according to a new report from the Inter-University Council of Ohio (IUC). The study, conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), showed that public universities, their students and local alumni added a combined $42 billion to the state economy during the 2016-2017 fiscal year, or about 6.7 percent of the state's gross product.