During each General Assembly, many important budget decisions must be made, which usually determines funding and finance appropriations for the state over the next two years. Part of this process involves passing and implementing the transportation budget for the state. As the chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee, I was able to see this process play out first-hand, and I believe the decisions and provisions laid out in the transportation budget will lead to many positive changes.
The transportation budget, or House Bill 114, allocates $7 billion for transportation-related projects throughout the state. One of the most revolutionary components of the bill was to permit the state and private groups to collaborate to complete road work, which will enable the state to benefit from the ingenuity and efficiency of the private sector. This has the potential to both increase the amount of resources available to complete a project, as well as cut costs for the state.
Additionally, the budget establishes a system that allows companies to renew commercial vehicle registrations online using a credit card, as opposed to carving out time during the day to visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The resources are obviously available to do more work online, so I think we should continue looking for ways to harbor the added efficiency that comes with using them.
A hot topic floating around Ohio recently, especially in the northern portion of the state is the potential privatization of the turnpike. Although the transportation budget bill did not address this issue, we have discussed it thoroughly in committee and will continue debating the merits of the idea. Some estimates have suggested that privatizing the turnpike, which has already been done in Indiana, could save the state up to $2.5 billion. Conserving tax dollars is always an important priority, so that is certainly an investment worth looking into. But again, at this time, nothing has been settled regarding the matter.
What the transportation budget does accomplish, however, is provide greater flexibility over public revenue by using resources that have been available to us for a very long time, namely the private sector and the Internet. As we move into next year, I will continue working with my fellow legislators to look for additional ways to put taxpayer dollars to smarter use, and I am always more than willing to discuss state-related issues with my constituents in the 72nd District.