Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland presented his budget for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio Department of Public Safety to the Ohio General Assembly Feb. 21.
Strickland’s total recommended transportation budget for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 biennium are $3.9 and $3.8 billion respectively.
“I believe this budget defines and funds our transportation and public safety priorities in a fiscally responsible way,” Strickland said. “This budget represents the challenges, opportunities, priorities and realities we currently face.”
Ohio Department of Transportation
Strickland’s budget for the Department of Transportation called for a top-to-bottom reassessment of major new construction projects and criteria used to choose those projects, set by the Transportation Review Advisory Council, to ensure the department is on solid financial footing and that the state is a more reliable partner to local communities. The reassessment will include a review of how to maximize the Department of Transportation’s use of federal dollars.
“Our transportation policy must renew and revitalize our cities and towns, connect our isolated economies to national markets, and maintain the pristine nature of Ohio’s rural areas,” Strickland said. “The investments we make in our roads, highways and state infrastructure should contribute to job creation.”
During this review, efforts will be made to be as minimally disruptive as possible to the Department of Transportation’s new construction schedule for the next two years.
The Department of Transportation makes up 80 percent of the total budget with total appropriations of approximately $3.2 billion in fiscal year 2008 and more than $3.1 billion in fiscal year 2009.
Ohio Department of Public Safety
Most significantly in the Department of Public Safety, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is facing a $29 million shortfall in 2009 because the patrol will no longer be receiving a share of the gas tax.
To keep the patrol from facing a $29 million deficit, Strickland will propose a change in the gasoline shrinkage and evaporation allowance.
“Safety is a top priority of this administration, and our state troopers work with our counties and municipalities to keep Ohio as safe as possible,” Strickland said. “We must not weaken the troopers’ strong presence on our highways, and we must provide them with the resources they need to keep Ohioans safe.”
The Ohio gasoline shrinkage and evaporation allowance, which exists to offset the costs to petroleum companies for evaporation at the pump, was to be raised to 3 percent in this biennium, but it will be lowered to 1 percent, which is the national median for the last fully compiled set of data from 2001. This change in the allowance will generate $38 million.
Consumers should not pay the price for this change. The portion of the shrinkage and evaporation allowance transmitted to retailer will not change, so Ohioans should be protected at the pump from any added costs.
The Department of Public Safety budget represents 18 percent of the total budget with appropriations of $685 million in fiscal year 2008 and $690 million in fiscal year 2009.