COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich added his signature to a $7.8 billion biennial transportation budget Friday afternoon, solidifying spending for road and bridge projects over the next two fiscal years.
The governor touted the legislation's impact on transportation improvements and technologies, not to mention the 43 major projects, 446 bridge projects, 615 pavement projects and 356 safety projects covered by the bill.
"Ohio ranks high among all states for the quality and maintenance of our highway infrastructure and we did it without ever having to raise the gas tax," Kasich said.
The governor's action came two days after the Ohio House and Senate, in lopsided votes, gave their final OK to the transportation budget.
The budget is separate from the larger state operating budget, which won't move until closer to the beginning of the next fiscal year on July 1.
The transportation budget included a Senate amendment requiring at least $33 million in federal flexible funding in each fiscal year to be directed to public transportation projects.
A conference committee of the House and Senate removed two other provisions, one shifting $30 million in Volkswagen emissions settlement money for transit upgrades and another diverting $48 million in motor fuel tax receipts to local road and bridge projects.
Among other provisions, lawmakers included language that would allow county commissioners to increase vehicle registration fees by $5, with the proceeds to be used for street and bridge projects. Any such increases would be subject to referendum, meaning voters could force the issues onto the ballot.
Kasich let stand much of what lawmakers approved, though he did line-item veto four items:Lawmakers included a provision creating a Smart Transportation Action Advisory Team to make recommendations about public support for autonomous vehicle projects.
Kasich also vetoed language that would have required ODOT to install interchanges on limited access highways every four miles in certain urban areas, noting "it is ultimately unworkable" and may "run contrary to federal requirements."
The governor axed language that would have changed the frequency of local bridge inspections, meaning those inspections will still have to be done annually.
Kasich also removed a water skier provision, meaning boaters will have to keep an extra person on board to watch people being towed behind.