Ohio House Speaker says local leaders face deadline for budget requests

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder
Caption
Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder

Local leaders have five weeks to craft and fine-tune their pitches to state lawmakers to approve funding for big projects.

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, addressed dozens of local elected and community leaders Wednesday at the final government affairs lunch of the year held by the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. Inside the newly renovated Conner Flight Deck at the University of Dayton Arena, Householder laid out the Jan. 10 deadline to submit proposals for the 2020 state capital budget.

The budget is utilized by the Ohio House to plan for the distribution of capital funds during the next two years. The capital budget also earmarks money to pay for community projects such as local swimming pools, bike trails or theaters. In the last capital budget, Montgomery County landed $6.1 million in state funds, including $1 million earmarked for the Dayton Arcade Innovation Hub. The fiscal year 2019-20 capital budget laid out how Ohio would spend $2.6 billion.

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“I always like to tell people, go to governor first, let him spend out of his wallet before you go to the legislature,” Householder said. “In all reality, work with your members and make sure that any projects that you’re interested in, that you qualify. Because quite frankly, it’s one of our requirements because it’s money directed out of the constitution. It’s bonded and we have requirements in order for you to qualify for those dollars.”

The 2020 numbers have not been finalized, however Householder said he expects the budget to be around $2.6 billion. The budget for community projects is expected to be near $150 million.

Transportation, school funding and other issues

The state of Ohio transportation infrastructure, the existing school funding system and House Bill 6 that was surrounded in controversy earlier this year were among the biggest issues Householder discussed.

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“In 2003, we found ourselves in a situation where our bridges were falling apart, roads were decaying, pot holes all over the state and I had to go in front of a bunch of young conservatives who came to Columbus to cut taxes,” Householder said.” And I had to try and pass the gasoline tax because constitutionally, the only way we can pay for roads and bridges in this state is through our motor fuel tax. It was supposed to be a forever fix. I come back 16 years later, low and behold here we are. Our roads have pot holes in them, our roads are decaying and our bridges are in very bad shape. So knowing how important transportation is not only in Ohio, but right here in the Miami Valley, we put together another transportation levy and another increase in the motor fuel tax.”

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In March, the House voted 71-27 in favor of a $7.94 billion two-year transportation budget bill that included higher gas taxes, fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, more money for public transit and a bigger share of funding for local governments.

“At the end of the day, we were faced with a situation where we really hadn’t done anything in 16 years,” Householder said. “Cars are becoming more efficient, which is a good thing. But it means they don’t use as much gasoline.”

Touching on what U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus described as “one of the most expensive and divisive campaigns in Ohio history,” Householder supports the bill.

“Two nuclear power plants on Lake Erie were in a situation where they were going to file for bankruptcy,” Householder said. “We’re going to keep something that is from Ohio, in Ohio. And we did. And quite frankly, I’ve always been proud of the members that cast that vote for that because it was the right thing to do.”

House Bill 6 changes several aspects of Ohio incentives for power companies. It added a charge estimated to be about 85 cents a month per home, and higher for commercial and industrial customers, to create a $150 million annual fund that will be paid to the owner of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts failed to get the bill on the November 2020 ballot for a referendum vote.

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