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Dem lawmakers call for investments in public transportation

Say improving infrastructure key to growing economy
February 20, 2019
Michael J. Skindell News

State Reps. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) today held a Statehouse press conference announcing legislation to increase state investments in public transportation. Ohio currently ranks near the bottom among states for public transportation funding.

“Ohio currently ranks near the bottom of states when it comes to investing in public transit. We cannot afford to fall further behind,” said Rep. Skindell. “By reinvesting in our infrastructure, we attract business and development, connect people to jobs and services and grow our economy. This plan puts Ohio in the driver’s seat again.”

The legislation would increase General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars in the state budget to $100 million in Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021.  In addition, their proposal would increase the use of federal flex funds in the public transportation budget to $50 million in Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021.  

“Inadequate public transportation options make it harder for many Ohioans to get to work, attend classes and make it in to see their doctor,” said Rep. Upchurch. “To grow our economy, we need to begin investing in projects that will move us forward, and this includes public transportation infrastructure built for the 21st century.”

The use of GRF dollars has radically decreased from $44 million in 2000 to $6.5 million in both Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 in the last biennium budget. Currently, the use of federal flex dollars for public transportation is only at $33 million per year.  Ohio currently spends 63 cents per person on mass transit.

“Ohio’s public transit systems have been in crisis for decades,” says Senior Researcher Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio. “For far too long Ohio has underinvested in public transportation and other alternative transportation options.  The state of Ohio ranks fortieth in the nation for per capita transit spending. We can and should do better.”