At The Statehouse: It’s Infrastructure Week in Ohio
Last week, we learned Ohio faces a looming crisis in transportation funding. Speaking to an Advisory Committee appointed by Governor DeWine, new ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks revealed that Ohio had effectively run out of money to maintain its roads and bridges. According to ODOT, the state has maxed out its ability to borrow against future gas tax revenue and, compounding the issue, the state’s 24-cent per gallon tax — which hasn’t been increased since 2005 — only buys a fraction of what it used to, thanks to inflation.
The DeWine administration was fairly blunt in calling out the prior administration for leaving them a mess. The state estimates the shortfall in funding for maintenance, safety and major new construction is $1.5 billion per year, $500 million of which is at the local level, as cities, counties, townships and villages see their share of the gas tax decline.
This week, against the backdrop of these newly-understood funding challenges, the DeWine administration will introduce its two-year transportation budget for fiscal years 2020-2021. While Ohio law requires the passage of this spending plan for motor fuel taxes and fees by March 31, the process is certain to be more closely watched than usual this year.
The first hearing of the yet-to-be-introduced legislation has been scheduled in the House Finance committee for Wednesday at 10am (see “Week at a Glance,” below). While no agenda has been made public, we expect committee members will hear from the ODOT Director, and additional hearings will be scheduled to give the public an opportunity to testify.
House Committee Assignments
On Friday, Speaker Householder released the list of committee assignments for the Ohio House. Notably, some important committee leadership jobs went to members who supported Householder’s rival in the recent race for Speaker. The Senate will announce committee assignments in a press briefing tomorrow morning.
Ballot Measures – Since our email last week, we shared what we know so far about proposed new legislation from Republican State Representative Kyle Koehler to reform the process for placing constitutional amendments on the ballot, and shared it on our website. You can read our post here.
Other Legislation – As noted earlier, Senate leaders are preparing to introduce their list of “priority” bills tomorrow morning, which they have said could include proposals around regulatory reform, Lake Erie, criminal justice reform, human trafficking and abortion.
When bills are introduced, you can find and track them online at legislature.ohio.gov.