In a bipartisan 83-13 vote, the Ohio House today approved the proposed budget plans for the Ohio Department of Transportation and several other state agencies. House Bill 26, the $7.8 billion transportation bill, largely funds infrastructure projects and public safety programs over the next two fiscal years.
“This transportation budget provides billions for much-needed construction work on Ohio’s roads and bridges and will create jobs,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), ranking member of the House Finance Committee. “With technology advancing at a rapid pace, there is still more work to be done to fully address Ohio’s future transportation needs. However, I am confident that this bill will move Ohio forward.”
Democratic lawmakers offered several amendments on the House floor, including proposals to change the failure to display a front license plate from a primary to a secondary offense; strengthen Ohio’s motor voter law compliance; require counties who want increase license registrations by $5 to place the increase on the ballot; and hold local public transit systems harmless from cuts due to proposed changes to the Medicaid managed-care organization (MCO) tax. However, each amendment was tabled along largely partisan lines.
In addition to investing almost $8 billion, House Bill 26 also includes several other notable changes related to Ohio infrastructure and transportation:
- Establishes a Division of Freight within the Department of Transportation.
- Increases an earmark for Transportation Improvement Districts from $3.5 million per year to $4.5 million
- Establishes a two-year pilot program in Clinton, Lucas, Montgomery and Stark counties to reduce commercial vehicle registrations from $30 to $15 and requires the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to study the effect of lowering commercial trailer fees.
“Without paved roads and safe bridges, middle class men and women in Ohio cannot get to work every day and help build a better life for themselves and their families,” said Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Strahorn). “Although I believe more can be done to assist our communities and local transit agencies, this budget is a step in a positive direction toward improving our roadways across the state.”
House Bill 26 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.
Here are what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about HB 26:
“This bill represents lawmakers coming together in a bipartisan way to invest in Ohio’s infrastructure and includes critical funds for the Western Hills Viaduct,” said Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati), the highest ranking Democrat on the House Finance Subcommittee on Transportation. “While I believe more investment is needed in Ohio’s public transit systems to help ensure people can get to and from work, this bill is a good compromise. In the meantime, I will also continue to fight for commonsense changes to Ohio’s transportation laws, such as removing the front license plate requirement."
“While I supported Sub HB 26 because it will fund needed infrastructure projects and create good, living-wage jobs, this bill could have been much better,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “This is a highways bill, not a transportation bill, for it doesn't improve Ohio's dismal level of the public transportation funding. Ohio is seventh in population and fourteenth in ridership, yet we are thirty-eighth in per capita public transit dollars. Public transportation is an important component of our workforce strategies – we need to be able to get people to job locations after we give them the skills to compete. While this bill does put people to work, it fails to get people to work.”