Senator Skindell Introduces Transportation Funding Bill
This past week State Senator Michael Skindell (D- Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 61 to increase state funding to public transportation. The bill would increase General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars for the remainder of this current fiscal year by $5 million. In the upcoming biennium budget, it would increase the public transportation line item to $25 million in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. It would also increase the use of federal flex funds in the public transportation budget to $50 million in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019.
The use of General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars has radically decreased from $44 million in 2000 to $7.3 in both Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 in the last biennium budget. Currently, the use of federal flex dollars for public transportation is only at $10 million per year.
“Public transportation in this state is quite underfunded, with Ohio ranking 47 out of the 50 states. The demands of younger Ohioans, coupled with the increased needs of our low-income and senior citizens, make such low funding unsustainable," said Senator Skindell. "Many low-income workers rely exclusively on public transit to keep a stable job. But these jobs are not exclusively located in urban areas, nor are the people who most use public transit. By providing a more robust system, the state can more adequately promote self-sustainability and independence. A better investment in affordable public transportation will best serve the needs of all citizens."
“The proposed bill to flex $50 million in highway funds to help replace bus vehicles is welcome news to RTA and all transit systems in Ohio,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO and General Manager of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). “Across this state, more than $400 million is needed today to replace outdated vehicles. It’s critical that this bill obtains widespread support.”
Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) was elected to serve Lakewood, Cleveland and Ohio's 23rd Senate District in November, 2010. He comes from the Ohio House of Representatives, where he served four terms as the Representative for Ohio's 13th House District. After graduating cum laude with a bachelor's degree in business and political science from Walsh College, Skindell earned his law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He represented the people of Lakewood as a Councilman at Large between 1998 and 2002.