Two state representatives from Northwest Ohio are among the legislators appointed to prepare arguments in favor of Issue 1, the state capital improvements bond issue that will be on the May 6 ballot.
Representatives Tim Brown, a Republican, and Democrat Chris Redfern were named to the pro-issue group along with Stephanie Kunze, a Republican representative, and senators Kevin Bacon and Gayle Manning, Republicans, and Democrat Eric Kearney.
If the issue is passed, it will continue a program that began in 1987 to provide financing for road, bridge, sewer and other infrastructure projects.
Arguments prepared by the lawmakers include:
• All 88 counties in the state have benefited from more than 11,500 grants for local projects and an estimated 35,000 jobs will be created.
• The issue will bring needed repairs to “deteriorating roads, bridges and other facilities.”
• The issue doesn’t raise taxes and the funds to repay project bonds are “already built into state budget planning.” The state’s bond rating makes it possible for a “modest increase” in funding for the capital improvements and the issue reduces pressure to raise local government taxes.
• The ballot issue received bipartisan support in the legislature, passing in the House of Representatives 90-2 and in the Senate 31-0.
The arguments don’t mention the debt that would be incurred if the issue passes. It would re-authorize the issuance of $1.875 billion in general obligation debt over 10 years and allow annual funding amounts of $150-$175 million in the first five years and $200 million in the last five.
An analysis by the Legislative Service Commission estimates if the state issued $175 million in bonds annually in fiscal years 2017-2021 and $200 million each in fiscal years 2022-26 with a maturity of 30 years and a 4.5 percent interest rate, the total cost of debt service would be about $3.5 billion.
The state constitution sets a limit of 5 percent on the amount of general revenue fund-backed debt the state may incur in a fiscal year. However, the limit may be waived by voters or a three-fifths majority vote of each chamber of the legislature, according to the analysis.