Not often do you see Democrats and Republicans each giving near unanimous support to a piece of legislation in the Ohio Statehouse. But such was the case when it came time to place Issue 1 on the ballot.
The Ohio Senate approved the legislation by a 31-0 vote and the House backed it 90-2. The landslide approval speaks to the strong support Issue 1 has across the state heading into Tuesday’s election.
Only the libertarians at the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law have raised concern about Issue 1, warning it is not a free lunch.
Issue 1 is all about maintaining the state’s infrastructure: repairing roads and bridges as well as funding sewer and water projects. Passage on Tuesday would allow the state to continue to use general revenue funding to back bonds that fund such projects. The funding has been around since 1987 and is up for its third renewal.
Statewide, more than 11,500 projects across all of Ohio’s 88 counties have used the funds the past 27 years, with local officials making the final decisions on what is best for their communities. Often the funds have been the impetus for large-scale projects that might otherwise have been delayed indefinitely. The funds provide up to 50 percent of the money for new construction projects and up to 90 percent for repair-and-replacement projects. Extending the funding for another 10 years would allow the state to raise another $1.875 billion for such products.
While supporters argue Issue 1 does not involve a tax increase and would keep the state safely below its constitutional debt-service limit, The 1851 Center claims the state is essentially seeking to borrow and spend money it does not currently have. If enacted, it says Issue1 would almost necessarily result in a tax increase.
It also argues the additional $1.875 billion in spending comes at a time when Ohio has just implemented a state budget that is the largest in its history, and growing significantly larger each year.
Ohio residents have a nearly three-decade track record in which to judge the program. That record is filled with successful capital improvement projects and sees voters renewing the funds in both 1995 and 2005. The money has been distributed fairly to all 88 counties, with local people deciding how it is used on local projects.
Taking away such funds would be the equivalent of ignoring maintenance issues and letting Ohio’s infrastructure whither to near ruin.
That would be foolish.
Voters should renew the program by voting yes for Issue 1. — Civitas Media