Columbus -- A state panel OK'd ballot language this week for a $1.9 billion plan to pay for road, bridge and other public works projects.
The approval by Ohio Ballot Board, headed by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, solidifies Issue 1 on the May 6 primary ballot. The proposed constitutional amendment seeks "to fund public infrastructure capital improvements by permitting the issuance of general obligation bonds."
Lawmakers gave their approval last month to seek a renewal of Ohio's State Capital Improvement Program for another decade. The bond issue was originally OK'd in 1987 and renewed by voters in 1995 and 2005.
The amendment seeks up to $175 million in state borrowing annually for five years (up from $150 million currently), followed by up to $200 million annually for the remaining five years.
The proceeds would be used for grants for local roads, bridges, water supply, wastewater treatment, storm water collection and solid waste disposal.
In addition to the wording that will appear on the primary ballot, the ballot board approved arguments for and against the issue.
The former was compiled by lawmakers, who noted that Issue 1 "brings needed repairs," "is a tried and true success for Ohio," benefits all 88 counties, will not increase taxes and is supported by Republicans and Democrats.
No groups came forward to offer arguments against the issue, so Husted's office compiled the opposition argument in-house, based on comments made by lawmakers during their floor debate.
The argument against notes that "all Ohio taxpayers will be paying interest on those bonds to cover local government projects ... These are community-based projects from which many Ohioans may not see a direct benefit and which local governments should prioritize and pay for using locally raised dollars."
The opposition argument also states that Issue 1 represents an increase in state borrowing and spending.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.