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Voters face one statewide ballot issue

 
Voters face one statewide ballot issue
Posted Monday, May 5th 2014 @ 6pm  by WTVN Newsroom

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Voters will get the chance to weigh in on just one statewide issue on the ballot. Issue 1 would renew the Ohio Public Works Commission, which was created in 1987, and issue $1.87 billion in bonds over the next 10 years. Those bonds would help pay for local infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, water and sewer lines, and solid waste disposal facilities.

"We're spreading the cost of it over the useful life of the infrastructure at historic low interest rates," said Michael Miller, director of the Ohio Public Works Commission.

The current program issues $150 million each year, but if voters okay Issue 1 it will expand that to $175 million over the first five years and $200 million each of the last five years.

Miller says it's a great deal for Ohio because interest rates are at historic lows.

The issue was placed on the ballot by the Ohio General Assembly which gave it rare widespread bi-partisan support.

Opponents, like Maurice Thompson with the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, argue that Issue 1 would just kick the can down the road. He says politicians back the plan because it allows the to spend money today and pay for it later after most are out of office.

"What this is is really a slush fund to kick out a bunch of special little earmark projects potentially for political purposes as much as for need," he said.

He believes taxes will have to be raised in the future if the measure is approved by voters. Thompson says Issue 1 shreds the constitutional requirement to balance Ohio's budget and bumps up the state's debt limit.

"We're already busting the state budget in Ohio," he said.

He believes that if these projects were so important they should have been included in the state budget.

Supporters say even with the bonds, Ohio would remain below the 5 percent constitutional debt limit.

Voters approved the program in 1987 and renewed it in 1995 and 2005.

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