State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today urged members of the House State and Local Government Committee to take a major step toward protecting the health and safety of all Ohioans by approving House Joint Resolution (HJR) 14. The measure proposes a constitutional amendment that would generate funding for local water infrastructure projects by permitting the state to issue up to $1 billion in additional general obligation bonds.
Under the amendment proposed by HJR 14, municipal corporations, counties, townships and other designated governmental entities would be able to apply for grant funding for waste water treatment systems, water supply systems, storm water and sanitary collection, storage and treatment facilities and other water infrastructure projects.
“While the governor and the Republican majorities in the House and Senate continue to hoard much needed revenue in the ‘rainy day’ fund, local governments across Ohio are forced to deal with a variety of water-related problems every time it rains,” said Lepore-Hagan. “Many cities and counties face three undesirable choices as they attempt to address drinking and waste water issues: sell their water infrastructure to private companies that often raise rates, let it crumble or ask residents to assume an ever-increasing local tax burden to fund critical repairs.”
“The revenue generated by our proposed amendment represents a fiscally responsible solution to Ohio’s water crisis,” Rep. Lepore-Hagan continued. “I am confident HJR 14 will preserve local water autonomy, generate savings for consumers and keep our families safe.”
According to an assessment by the American Society of Civil Engineers, in order to comply with water quality and public health standards, Ohio must invest $12.2 billion in drinking water and $14.6 billion in wastewater infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years.
“As public officials, we have an obligation to ensure the continued deliverance of clean drinking water to our constituents,” said Smith. “These additional capital dollars will ensure that our constituents have clean drinking water, reduce environmental hazards and protect our natural resources. Furthermore, additional resources will create jobs in members’ districts and improve the economic welfare of people in this state. These are all issues that we cannot fall behind on to ensure a high quality of life for Ohio residents.”