A transportation budget bill heads to a conference committee after being approved in both chambers of the state legislature.
The bill includes a provision authorizing the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission to issue $1.5 billion in revenue bonds to fund infrastructure projects.
Members of the House of Representatives from Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, and Sandusky counties were opposed to the proposed funding mechanism, fearing area residents and businesses that rely on the turnpike would bear the brunt of repaying the debt.
Rep. Tim Brown (R- Bowling Green), who voted against the House version of the bill, also voted Wednesday to not concur with amendments adopted last week by the Senate, where it passed by a vote of 27-6.
After the conference committee resolves the differences, a final version of the bill will be on the floor of the House on March 21. Brown said.
“I'm going to reserve judgment until I see a final version,” Brown said.
Rep. Rex Damschroder (R – Fremont) had said the House bill contains many good features but it would create a “cash flow out of our area.”
The bill found support in the Senate from local legislators.
Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo), who district includes much of Lucas County, including Oregon and Jerusalem Township, said she was satisfied the Senate amendments would help keep turnpike revenues in northern Ohio.
“I am happy to see guarantees put into the transportation budget to keep turnpike dollars primarily in northern Ohio. Many of the changes made to the bill in the Senate were significant improvements that I support,” she said. “Although many positive changes were made, I will continue working to keep the turnpike safe, affordable and accessible so that businesses and citizens in my district can continue using and benefitting from this vital asset.”
Senators Randy Gardner (R- Bowling Green) and David Burke (R- Marysville) voted in support of the bill.