Bond issue for infrastructure projects eyes Ohio's May ballot

by MARC KOVAC | RECORD PUBLISHING CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published:

Columbus -- Republican lawmakers hope to ask voters next May to OK nearly $1.9 billion in bonding to cover road, bridge and other public works project.

The proposed constitutional amendment would renew the existing State Capital Improvement Program for another decade.

"It really doesn't change our debt service," said Senate President Keith Faber, a Republican from Celina, who announced the plan during a speech before chamber of commerce groups recently. "It continues on what we've been doing."

"We step it up a little bit to meet with inflation, but the reality is it is very manageable within our current debt service and it's something the state pays for for local governments."

Senate Joint Resolution 6 was formally introduced Dec. 18 by Republican Sens. Kevin Bacon of Columbus and Gayle Manning of North Ridgeville. It would require approval by the House and Senate before the end of January to qualify for the May ballot.

The program was originally OK'd in 1987, with renewals approved by voters in 1995 and 2005. The proposed amendment would seek up to $175 million in state borrowing annually for five years, followed by up to $200 million annually for the remaining five years.

Grants are provided for roads, bridges, water, wastewater treatment, stormwater collection and solid waste, according to the state's Public Works Commission, which oversees the program. Funds also will be used to tackle a backlog of infrastructure maintenance projects.

"The Public Works Commission has a proven record of providing necessary assistance to our local governments by funding some of our most vital projects," Bacon said in a released statement. "This is about keeping our roads, bridges, sewers and other public infrastructure up to date and safe."

Gov. John Kasich is backing the plan. "This will be very good for shining up the state," he said.

Kovac is the Dix capital bureau chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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