Senate to Kasich: let’s keep our Turnpike promises

2012.10.15 turnpikeAfter the House passed, the Ohio Senate yesterday approved a version of Turnpike bonding legislation that makes good on the promises to northern Ohio drivers made by the Kasich administration when it announced the plan.

The legislation (House Bill 51) was combined with the state two-year transportation budget and featured a number of significant amendments:

  • A requirement that 90 percent of funds derived from Turnpike tolls would be spent on projects within 75 miles of the Turnpike
  • Toll rates on local E-ZPass trips frozen for 10 years
  • A tax credit for trips over 30 years if toll increases exceed rate of inflation

Refusing to agree to the Senate version (which contained numerous unrelated provisions relating to the state’s two-year transportation budget), the House has insisted upon a conference committee which will work out the differences before the bill heads to the Governor.

Since originally promising spending 90% of Turnpike money in norther Ohio and keep toll rates low, the administration has backed away, saying putting commitments in writing could reduce the amount the bond market will pay. It will be interesting to see if Kasich uses his line-item veto authority to remove the very promises he originally made.