Smith: Dems Improve State Transportation Budget, Support Its Passage
Win historic investments in public transportation, local community support
March 15, 2019
 
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House Democratic lawmakers today voted in favor of House Bill (HB) 62, the state’s bipartisan, two-year budget that largely funds road and bridge improvements and public transportation throughout the state.


“I am proud of our Democratic wins that secure historic investments in public transportation and local community funding,” said Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “Good government rarely means one party gets everything they want, but by working together we shaped a stronger blueprint to improve lives, grow our economy and help restore our state’s promise to taxpayers.”


Key Democratic amendments accepted into the final version of HB 62 include:


-$200 million for public transportation throughout the state over two years – an over 200-percent increase.


-12.5-percent increase for the local community share of new gas tax revenue – a five percentage point rate increase.


-Allow a four-percentage point increase in Public Works Commission funding for local communities’ capital projects – a 200-percent overall increase in the amount of funding.


-$4.2 million overall increase in Roadwork Development Fund.


-$10 million for local community infrastructure impacted by oil and gas exploration heavy equipment.


-Restore local Emergency Management Association oversight.


-Remove language restricting gas tax revenue to roads and bridges only.


-Restore additional consumer notice of towed vehicles.


-Remove front license plate requirement.


“This transportation budget we helped shape will have a profound impact on working people, families and small businesses who will see a real return on their investment with better roads, safer bridges and improved transit options to get them where they need to go,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), the highest-ranking Democrat on the House budget panel.


Democratic amendments would ease some of the burden on local communities, who currently face an estimated $1.5 billion shortfall for road and bridge repairs.


“This compromise is a real win for working people and the communities they live in,” said Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “We’ve created a bipartisan framework that invests in local communities, expands transit options and truly moves our state forward.”


Ohio has the 14th highest transit ridership of any state in the country, but currently ranks near the bottom in state funding for public transportation. A 2015 ODOT study found that significant investments are needed to meet the state’s growing public transit demands. 


“The overarching goal for us in the General Assembly should be to strengthen Ohio’s economy. I voted yes on Ohio’s transportation budget because it puts more people to work and it gets more people to work,” said Minority Whip Kent Smith (D-Euclid).


“This bill will not only fix Ohio’s crumbling roads and bridges, it will also move Ohio forward with historic public transit investments. Of the 50 states, Ohio is 7th in population and 14th in ridership, but we have only funded public transit at 38th,” added Smith. “However, today, March 7, we changed that as the Ohio House voted to increase our funding of public transit by a total of $200 million dollars over the life of this budget. I was proud to vote yes for this historic investment.”


Other provisions in the bill include increasing the frequency of ODOT and transit authority audits and regulating lightweight electric scooters.


“The work we put into this bill will benefit the lives of working people, from repaving the roads they drive on to improving the bus routes that get them to and from work, school or the doctor,” said Assistant Whip Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). “It’s an important step in the right direction, and a big win for everyday Ohioans.”


After clearing the House, HB 62 heads to the state Senate for consideration.


Here is what other Democrats are saying about HB 62:


“I was proud to vote yes for Ohio. Yes to an historic $200 million for public transit.  Yes to the return of stolen local money.  This transportation budget is a solid win for Ohio families,” said Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron).


“We worked really hard to make sure this transportation budget focused on the people. More money back to local governments for the people! More money for Public Transportation for the people! Did we get all we needed? No, but this is far better than where it could be,” said Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati). “I’ll continue to push fuel quality testing in the Senate, and that would be an even bigger win for the people.”


“Today I voted in favor of the proposed transportation budget, HB 62. While the bill isn't perfect, I am proud of the work done by our caucus to move Ohio forward by securing increased funding for local governments and public transit,” said Rep Joe Miller (D-Amherst). “Ultimately, this is more than an investment in infrastructure—it’s an investment in the people of Ohio. We will put Ohioans to work, and help them get to work safely.”


“While this bill is not perfect, my Democratic colleagues and I made historic gains, especially as members of the super minority, by making meaningful investments in people and our local communities. Today, Democrats showed that we do have a seat at the table, and I am proud to have played a part,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland).


“For too long, our state’s infrastructure and transit needs have been neglected. Finally, I am proud to support a bipartisan compromise that will increase state funding to public transit by 200 percent, give more money to local governments, and create infrastructure jobs across the state,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Investing in Ohio’s infrastructure keeps our families safe and our economy competitive, and it will pay off for years to come.”


“I am encouraged by this bill and the diligent work that went into it,” said Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton). “I am glad to see the investment in public transit – allowing more Ohioans to access better employment opportunities, access to healthcare and other crucial services, ultimately strengthening our local economies. The time is now to fix our crumbling infrastructure and empower local communities with the resources they need to improve safety on our roads and bridges. I look forward to continuing to work on restoring funds to local governments and investing in our people.”


“Earlier this week, the governor outlined the dangers of inaction on the state’s infrastructure crisis. Our inclusion of $200 million in the budget for public transportation over the next two years is a historic, bipartisan answer to the governor’s call to action—one that will provide enormous benefits to working people throughout Ohio,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “Investing in public transit reduces poverty, creates job opportunities and has the potential to reduce Ohio’s infant mortality rates. Better connecting those who are ready to work with available jobs makes Ohio even more attractive to new businesses.”


“I’m pleased that we were able to negotiate $200 million for public transit over the next two years, which is crucial to my district as our population continues to grow,” said Rep. Allisson Russo (R-Upper Arlington). “I was also a strong advocate for increasing the share of funding that would go directly to local governments, helping to ease the strain that repeated local government funding cuts have placed on municipalities and townships across Ohio over the last 8 years. It is imperative that these gains are fully maintained as the transportation budget moves through the Senate.”


“Through many discussions, committee hearings, and listening to the feedback from my neighbors, I am happy this legislative body was able to work in a real bipartisan way to address the needs of our roads so that Ohioans can travel safely,” said Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus). “It was vitally important we increased the local government share of the gas tax revenue and funding for public transit, which so many Ohioans rely upon.”

 
 
 
  
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