In an 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.


“Our current transportation budget falls short of meeting the real transportation needs of all Ohioans,” said Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “In the 2015 Ohio Statewide Transit Needs Study, the Ohio Department of Transportation identified a need of $120 million for transit, but the current budget allocates only $33 million in federal funds. Ohio must be willing to make fair and equitable investments in transit and public infrastructure to meet the growing needs of our state, so that our roads are safe, our children can get to school and hard working men and women can travel to and from their jobs to provide for themselves and their families.”


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.


“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.”


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.


House Bill 26 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration. 

 
 
 
  
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