Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Buckeye State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.
Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond. The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.
These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions.
Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.
Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding. We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.
1) Ohio has some of the highest poverty rates in the nation. 15.2% of the population is living in poverty and 7.0% of the population is living in extreme poverty, or 50% below the FPL. The state also suffers from above average levels of low and very low food security. What programs are in place to help end poverty and hunger in Ohio? Who is involved? What success has been seen and where does more focus need to be placed?
2) There is no state EITC program. Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to have one?
3) Ohio does not have a Shared Work Program. Why not? Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
4) The WIC benefit rate is below the national average. Is there any effort to increase the rate?
5) While participation in the Summer Nutrition Program is among the highest in comparison to other states, the number of children in the SNP per 100 in the School Lunch Program is below the national average. Is there any movement to increase participation in the SNP, possibly through increasing the number of locations where food is provided?
6) Although the Seniors Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program benefit rate is high, the WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program rate is well below the national average. Is there any effort being made to increase the rate of the WIC FMNP benefit?
7) Ohio has an infant mortality rate of 7.7 and 28.8% percent of its population is obese. What is being done to combat these epidemics?
8) Unemployment is above the national average and the 9th highest rate in the nation. However, only 37% of those eligible receive unemployment insurance. This is below the national average of 43%. Is there any effort being made to increase the number of those who receive unemployment insurance?
9) Ohio does not have a State LIHEAP. Is there any movement to introduce one?
10) Non-prescription medicine is subject to the general sales tax. Is any effort being made to exempt non-prescription drugs from tax?
11) The lowest 20% of income earners pays 12% of their income in taxes. The highest 1% of income earners pays 6.4% of their income in taxes. Is anything being done to address this disparity and relieve the tax burden from low-income individuals?
12) Though Ohio does have a state Pre-K program, it has a low rate of participation for 4 year olds at 10%; well below the national average of 23%. Is there a plan to expand pre-k enrollment to more 4 year olds?
13) Ohio spends 7.3% or its state budget on corrections. Is there any effort underway to reform the state prison system, perhaps by reducing recidivism or providing alternative sentencing?
14) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?
Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected].
Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.