Cera Offers Bold Plan To Address Neglected Water Infrastructure Needs, Create Jobs
Budget amendment will leverage $1 billion for investment in local communities
April 03, 2017
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State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) today unveiled a bold plan to restore Ohio’s aging water and sewer systems and drive economic growth in the state. The Bellaire lawmaker’s amendment to the state budget would leverage $1 billion from the Budget Stabilization Fund (the Rainy Day Fund) to provide low-interest loans and grants to local governments to help build reliable, efficient, and modern water infrastructure systems that will ensure clean drinking water and fuel a strong and thriving economy.

“Investing in our state’s water infrastructure will help create good-paying jobs, drive economic growth and enhance the quality of life for families in our state,” said Cera. “Every Ohioan deserves to have clean, safe drinking water when they turn on their faucet. Modernizing Ohio’s aging water infrastructure will protect the health and well-being of all Ohioans while also creating jobs and boosting the state economy.”

According to the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, published by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Ohio currently faces an expected $12.2 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs and $14.58 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years to keep Ohio’s drinking water safe and address the safe disposal of wastewater.

Under Cera’s proposal, a plan mirrored after state Rep. John Rogers’ (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) “Restore Ohio” bill, the state would incrementally leverage up to $1 billion dollars over a five-year period from the Budget Stabilization Fund, making those dollars available to communities in the form of low or zero-interest loans. Additionally, 50 percent of the investment earnings from the Budget Stabilization Fund would be made available to local communities in the form of infrastructure grants.

As loans are repaid, the Budget Stabilization fund would be replenished, ensuring the fund’s integrity and solvency. Any interest collected would also be utilized for future grants to communities.

Cera’s proposal also includes language to require the General Assembly place before voters a constitutional amendment to authorize $1 billion in state general obligation bonds to fund sewer and water capital improvement grants. Similar to House Joint Resolution 5 of the 131st General Assembly, the grants would be awarded over 10 years at $100 million a year.

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