Every decade or so, state government comes knocking. Officials don’t ask Ohioans for money directly, but for approval to allow the state to issue bonds to finance public capital improvement projects.
The bonds, in turn, help pay the bills for roads, bridges, solid waste disposal, storm water and sanitary sewage collection, storage, and treatment.
On May 6, voters get to decide whether to approve Issue 1, a renewal of the bond program that has been in place since 1987, and renewed by voters in 1995 and 2005.
It would provide $1.88 billion in new borrowing over 10 years. It is in the form of an amendment to the state Constitution.
There’s no good reason why Ohioans shouldn’t approve it again.
The proposal got broad bipartisan support when it was in the Legislature earlier this year.
The main objection from the only two lawmakers who voted against putting it on the ballot was that it would increase the state’s long-term indebtedness. That’s true. The state’s annual payments on the new borrowing could increase by as much as $40 million, to $270 million, as a result.
But because the funds to repay project bonds are already built into the state budget, Issue 1 does not increase taxes.
The benefits to city, township and county governments are many. By funding infrastructure through state bonds, less pressure is put on other governments to impose taxes.
All 88 Ohio counties have benefited from more than 11,500 grants for projects over the past 27 years. If Issue 1 is approved, many more projects will get done, and an estimated 35,000 jobs will be created.
A grant allocation process assures fairness so that communities, both large and small, receive funds.
Perhaps, if all our roads and bridges were in mint condition, it wouldn’t be necessary to continue the bond program. But maintaining infrastructure is one of the most important functions of government, and best done continually.
If not, a little pothole becomes a bigger problem. Bridges left to crumble can eventually collapse.
Issue 1 represents the nuts and bolts of government. It’s not glamorous or exciting, but necessary. Voters should support it.
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