Dem Lawmakers Announce Bill To Establish Restore Ohio Program To Invest In Local Infrastructure
Say infrastructure critical to state's economic health, consumers' bottom-line
February 20, 2018
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State Reps. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) and John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) today introduced HB 499 to establish the Restore Ohio program, a program which would invest in local infrastructure projects to restore crumbling roads and bridges, fix aging water and sewer systems and update the state’s outdated infrastructure. The program would invest $1 billion in state Rainy Day funds to provide low-interest loans and grants to local governments to rebuild and modernize Ohio’s aging infrastructure.

“Our state’s looming infrastructure disaster has to rank among the most predictable crises of my career,” said Rep. Cera. “Years of neglect from Columbus have hamstrung the ability of local governments to maintain the roads, bridges and water and sewer lines that we all rely on. The Restore Ohio plan presents a solution that many of us have long been advocating for— a fiscally responsible path to rebuilding Ohio’s failing infrastructure.”

According to a 2017 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the average Ohio driver pays $475 a year in extra vehicle maintenance costs associated with run-down roads. In addition, some 17 percent of Ohio roadways are classified as being in “poor” condition, while nearly 2,000 Ohio bridges have been designated “structurally deficient.” The same report indicates the state will have to invest more than $12.2 billion over the next 20 years to ensure access to safe drinking water.

“A strong economy is built on strong infrastructure. Fortune 500 companies and mom and pop shops alike depend on reliable transportation and access to utilities to grow their businesses,” said Rep. Rogers. “The people of Ohio have placed their faith in us to foster an economic environment that provides opportunity to all our citizens. These infrastructure projects are the most fundamental pieces of that equation.”

Through Restore Ohio, the state would incrementally leverage up to $1 billion dollars over a five-year period from the state’s Rainy Day 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 Rainy Day Fund would be made available to local communities in the form of infrastructure grants.

As loans are repaid, money would be returned back to the Rainy Day Fund, ensuring the fund’s long-term solvency. Any interest collected would also be utilized for future grants to communities. 

HB 499 will go before the House Finance Committee where it will receive its initial hearings, which have yet to be announced.

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