by J.D. Davidson
The Ohio Senate approved more than $8 billion it hopes will spur both economic development and job growth while tackling the state’s transportation needs over the next two years.
The state’s proposed transportation budget passed the Senate unanimously Thursday with some adjustments made by the Senate, including additional money for public transportation, local road projects and emergency road repair. It also requires the Ohio Department of Transportation to reopen currently decommissioned weigh stations to serve as overnight parking areas for commercial truckers.
“This transportation budget makes critical investments in Ohio’s communities and local infrastructure,” said Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima. “I am confident House Bill 74 will improve roads and infrastructure that Ohioans use every day and will enhance Ohio’s economy and promote job growth.”
The Senate added nearly $14 million to public transportation, which already had received a $70 million boost in the House over what Gov. Mike DeWine had proposed.
More than $116 million will go toward grants for local road projects, and $2 million goes to emergency road-slip repair.
“This bipartisan bill recognizes the need for a solid, statewide transportation infrastructure with an investment of more than $8 billion for the next two years,” said Sen. Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Transportation affects and impacts every Ohioan. I am grateful to lead this process that places Ohio competitively on the global playing field. I believe this budget is not only fiscally responsible, but also sensible, equitable and forward looking.”
DeWine’s proposed $10 increase in vehicle fees was removed in the House, along with plans to increase fines for distracted driving. It also reduced fees on alternative fuel vehicle.
The vehicle registration fee increase was proposed to provide more funding for the State Highway Patrol, but House committee members added $50 million a year in patrol funding.
The bill also provides more than $1 billion in funding for the state patrol over the two years.
The House agreed to the Senate’s changes Thursday afternoon, and the budget now heads to Gov. Mike DeWine for approval.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.