Tom Warne Report, 15 March 2013
Senate lawmakers in Ohio have made minor changes to Gov. John Kasich’s turnpike proposal, requiring any revenue brought in from turnpike bonds to be spent in Northern Ohio and freezing toll rates in statute. The measure may result in a governor veto and result in an even more distant relationship between Kasich and the leaders of his party.
The Senate Transportation Committee approved amendments to House Bill 51 that require 90 percent of any funds generated by the proceeds of borrowing against future turnpike tolls be spent on projects within 75 miles of the Ohio Turnpike. The other amendment adopted puts a hold on current toll rates for short trips using E-ZPass. Both measures were initially promised by the Kasich administration but later removed as blocking the state’s ability to get the most of bond proceeds.
The governor still has the ability to use his line-item veto authority to remove the measures because the Turnpike amendments were also included in the two-year budget for transportation.
The committee that approved the changes is firmly controlled by members of the governor’s own party, and is further evidence that Kasich is on thin ice with GOP lawmakers that have recently rejected his proposals for Medicaid, sales tax expansion, taxing oil and gas extraction.