Wednesday, March 13, 2013

$7.6 Billion State Transportation Budget Clears Ohio Senate

COLUMBUS– This afternoon, the Ohio Senate lent its approval to House Bill 51, which appropriates more than $7.6 billion to fund the Ohio Departments of Transportation and Public Safety over the coming biennium.

“As we continue our work to put Ohio’s economy back on the right track, the Senate can be proud of this budget, which implements new, innovative ideas to improve Ohio’s infrastructure and create jobs all over our state,” said President Faber (R–Celina). “Through the Turnpike plan alone, we are expecting to create 65,000 jobs across the state of Ohio, which builds upon the work the Senate has already done to make job creation the state’s number-one priority.”

In addition to the budget appropriations, the Senate approved a plan that will allow $1.5 billion in bonds to be issued on the Ohio Turnpike. Combined with federal and local matching funds, this money will contribute extensively to infrastructure projects in northern Ohio and across the state. The additional funding will increase the priority level of many highway projects. Some projects that were not expected until 2025 will be given immediate consideration.

“House Bill 51 is arguably one of the greatest jobs budgets we will pass this General Assembly,” said State Senator Gayle Manning (R–North Ridgeville), who presides as Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “As we invest in our infrastructure, we do more than build better roads, we create a pathway for new businesses, we employ construction workers, and we contribute to the health of Ohio’s improving economy.”

The bill received bipartisan support in the Senate with Transportation Committee Ranking Minority Member Senator Capri Cafaro (D–Hubbard) saying that the legislation “does the responsible thing” on the Nexus Provision, which ensures that 90 percent of the funds raised through the bonding of the Ohio Turnpike will be used within 75 miles of the Turnpike.

Among the bill's provisions:

Permitting the bonding of the Ohio Turnpike up to $1.5 billion
The Nexus provision, which ensures that 90 percent of the money raised through turnpike bonding will be spent on northern Ohio projects
Increases the highway speed limit in Ohio to 70 miles per hour, outside of urban areas
Lowers the late fee for vehicle registration from $20 to $10.
Allows for the multi-year registration of certain vehicles
Requires a stop sign at all railroad crossings where passive warning devices (lights or gates) do not exist