by J.D. Davidson
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine praised the $8.3 billion state transportation budget he signed into law despite it missing the increased vehicle fees and massive cuts for public transportation he proposed.
The two-year budget, House Bill 74, provides money for road and bridge construction and maintenance, as well as other transportation priorities established by the committees in the House and Senate, along with DeWine.
“The budget ensures that we can continue to maintain and invest in Ohio’s roadways,” DeWine said Wednesday. “Ohio’s transportation system continues to be a critical part of our economy, moving materials and people safely across our state. This budget advances our commitment to invest in state and locally-maintained roadways.”
The House Finance Committee stripped out DeWine’s proposed $10 increase in vehicle fees, removed plans to increase fines for distracted driving and reduced fees on alternative fuel vehicles.
The vehicle registration fee increase was proposed to provide more funding for the State Highway Patrol, but House committee members added $50 million a year in patrol funding and restored $70 million in cuts to public transportation DeWine had planned.
The budget also provides more than $1 billion in funding for the state patrol over the two years.
There is $318 million set aside for safety projects, along with $2.6 billion for state-maintained road improvements. Additionally, $2.4 billion is earmarked for local road improvements, while another $8 million is set aside for electric vehicle charging state grants through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The budget also includes money to enhance and expand services by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, requires completion of classroom or online instruction for driver’s training before beginning behind-the-wheel instruction, repurposes closed weigh stations into places truck drivers can rest and creates a school zone around a preschool.
An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.