Columbus -- Ohio voters will decide in May whether to allow the state to borrow nearly $1.9 billion over 10 years to pay for road, bridge and other public works projects.
The ballot issue was finalized Jan. 22 by the Ohio House, which voted 90-2 to send Senate Joint Resolution 6 to the primary ballot.
The vote came a little more than a week after the Ohio Senate OK'd the resolution in comparable fashion and a little more than a month after the issue was formally introduced.
SJR 6 seeks to renew Ohio's State Capital Improvement Program for another decade. The bond issue was originally OK'd in 1987, with renewals approved by voters in 1995 and 2005.
The new amendment seeks up to $175 million in state borrowing annually for five years (up from $150 million currently), followed by up to $200 million annually for the remaining five years.
The proceeds would be used for grants for local roads, bridges, water supply, wastewater treatment, storm water collection and solid waste disposal.
As they did in the Ohio Senate, Democratic lawmakers in the House attempted an amendment to increase the bonding amount to provide more funding for projects. They cited state funding cuts to local governments and billions of dollars of needed infrastructure repairs.
"We think this is a significant but also sensible amount and continues to be manageable and affordable," said Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said, adding, "We have the debt capacity to increase the amount local governments can use to improve their infrastructure...."
But Republicans blocked the amendment, with Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green) offering, "We believe that the proposed increase is substantial in ramping up Ohio's commitment to meeting those local infrastructure needs."