For the third time since it was created in 1987, the State Capital Improvement Program won overwhelming approval from Ohioans to renew funding for local road, bridge, water and other infrastructure projects.
Issue 1, a 10-year, $1.875 billion bond issue, won by about 30 percentage points.
Backed by a diverse coalition that included the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, unions, the Ohio Farm Bureau and local governments, the issue allows for to $175 million to be spent in each of the first five years, and up to $200 million in each of the next five. That’s an increase from the current $150 million a year.
Supporters say it will provide for 35,000 construction and related jobs over the next decade.
“Ohio’s successful Public Works program will be extended 10 more years thanks to approval by Ohio voters, and this is good news for our local communities who rely on this support to improve their roads, bridges and infrastructure,” Gov. John Kasich said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the broad, bipartisan leadership that helped us renew and strengthen this important program.”
The nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission estimates the total cost of debt-service payments at $3.5 billion over 30 years.
Projects are picked at the local level, where leaders establish regional priorities and 19 local public-works committees review and submit project requests. Counties, cities, villages, townships, and water and sanitary districts are eligible.
Supporters say the renewal will allow the state to keep up with needed infrastructure repairs without a tax increase — paying for the debt has already been built into state budget planning. Grants can cover up to 90 percent of the total cost for infrastructure repair or replacement projects, and up to 50 percent of expansions. Loans also are available.
Groups including the Libertarian Party of Ohio and the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law opposed the measure.
By Jim Siegel - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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