Transportation Funding Keeps Ohioans Moving
Posted on 04/05/17 in Smart Transportation
Ohioans need to be able to get to work and school. Public transportation is a huge part of how they do. Because of that, public transit plays a crucial role in Ohio’s economy. Unfortunately, our current state budget deflates transit funding to a harmful low.
Ohio already ranks 47 out of the 50 states for state investment in public transit. Millennials we want to attract to our cities increasingly reject cars and opt to live in walkable, bikeable communities. Our population is rapidly aging, and many senior citizens depend on public transportation to get around. Many low-income workers rely on transit to keep a stable job. But these jobs are not exclusively located in urban areas, nor are the people who most use public transit. By providing a more robust system, the state can promote self-sustainability and independence. A deeper investment in affordable public transportation will serve the needs of all citizens.
Ohio’s low transportation funding is a problem, and Senate Bill 61 is part of the solution. Our office introduced this bill to increase General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars for the remainder of this current fiscal year’s transportation budget by $5 million. In the upcoming biennium budget, the bill would increase the public transportation line item to $25 million in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. It would also increase the use of federal flex funds in the public transportation budget to $50 million in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. Click here to find your senator and state representative – then call and urge them to support transit funding in general and SB 61 in particular.
SB 61 is badly needed, but fills only part of the gap. The Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) 2014 Ohio Statewide Public Transportation Needs Study called for a statewide public transportation increase of approximately $97 million. The increase would include state GRF funds, federal funding, local fares and some other small funding areas. According to the study more than half the funding for Ohio’s urban transportation systems comes from local funds.
Clearly our statewide transportation systems need improved funding and local entities need relief from this burden. Ohio’s state legislators should pass SB 61 and increase funding for public transit, because Ohioans definitely could use a lift.
State Senator Michael Skindell (D- Lakewood) represents Senate District 23. This article was written by Andrea Costin, the Legislative Service Commission Fellow placed in Sen. Skindell’s office.