COLUMBUS — A $7 billion transportation bill that looks a little different than the one Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine proposed overwhelmingly passed the Ohio House on Thursday afternoon.
The House Finance Committee earlier had stripped out DeWine’s $10 increase in vehicle fees, removed plans to increase fines for distracted driving and reduced fees on alternative fuel vehicles.
The two-year transportation budget, House Bill 74, provides money for road and bridge construction and maintenance, as well as other transportation priorities established by the committee and DeWine.
It passed the House, 87-8, and heads to the Senate for consideration.
“I’m very proud of all the work we’ve accomplished in putting together this extensive and detailed budget together,” said Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, chairperson of the House Finance Committee. “The bill pushes Ohio toward a big and bright future as we continue to invest in our state’s infrastructure – that means enhancing our economy, commerce, services and jobs for decades to come.”
The vehicle registration fee increase was proposed to provide more funding for the State Highway Patrol, but committee members added $50 million a year in patrol funding, as well as adding back $70 million in cuts to public transportation DeWine had planned.
The bill also provides more than $1 billion in funding for the state patrol over the two years.
“Ohio’s infrastructure and transportation is the foundation upon which our economy and our communities are built, supporting commerce, transporting Ohio-produced goods and connecting Ohioans with jobs and services,” Oelslager said. “We are maintaining the infrastructure we have, investing in new projects and supporting other services such as public transit. This is a bill that will make a difference for all Ohioans.”
The changes passed committee on a 29-4 vote, with half of the committee Democrats supporting the changes. The four “no” votes came from the committee’s other Democrats.
“Ohio is the crossroads of America, and our infrastructure is a key part of keeping and creating jobs here in the Buckeye State,” said Rep. Tom Patton, R-Strongsville, chairperson of the committee’s transportation subcommittee. “This is a jobs bill that will keep Ohioans and Ohio’s economy moving forward.”
Patton said Ohio is within a day’s drive of 60% of the American and Canadian population and has the nation’s fourth-largest interstate system and the second-largest inventory of bridges.