COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The 2024-2025 Ohio Transportation Budget (House Bill 23) was favorably reported out of the House Finance Committee Tuesday.
Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland), a ranking member of the committee, said Democrats are happy with the transportation budget overall, specifically the public transit provisions and rail safety amendments added last week, calling those a “big bipartisan win” for the state.
One of those rail amendments includes requiring a two-person crew, and while this amendment may be challenged federally, Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), chairman of the committee, said the amendments are moving forward anyway.
“I hope that Congress is going to act on this, but if they don’t, I think we can have safeguards in the state,” Edwards said. “It’s our responsibility that, at least in this state, we’re requiring two-man crews and some of the other things we’ve done.”
But some House Democrats are not seeing eye-to-eye with Republicans when it comes to a billion-dollar fund for rural highways in the state, prompting four “no” votes in committee.
“Typically, the rural areas are unfunded, a lot of the other areas are funded,” Edwards said. “The rural areas never get enough money to fund projects and we’re talking about safety.”
“I want to be supportive of that fund,” Sweeney said. “But making sure the eight counties that excluded from that are also getting their funding and that those projects can also move forward, and those projects aren’t double dipping.”
The House is expected to vote on the transportation budget on Wednesday. Sweeney hopes to make floor amendments during that session regarding that billion-dollar fund.