Cash-strapped local governments throughout Ohio have a lot riding on today's primary election. So do Buckeye State residents concerned about infrastructure needs.
A public works program that has been a success since its inception in 1987 needs to be provided with an infusion of funds. It is the loan and grant system operated by the Ohio Public Works Commission.
Local governments in need of help with capital improvement projects such as roads and water treatment plants can get it from the OPWC. Sometimes, the availability of money from that source is the difference between being able to undertake infrastructure improvements and rejecting them.
If approved, the ballot issue would allow the state to borrow $1.875 billion during a 10-year period to continue funding the OPWC loan and grant program. It would not result in a tax increase.
Supporters of the initiative say it would provide thousands of new jobs. That is true, to an extent. Of course, nearly all the jobs would be temporary ones in the construction industry.
Rather than considering the measure as a job creator, however, voters should look at what it will do. Again, it will provide local governments with cash they need to make needed infrastructure repairs and improvements. That alone is reason enough to approve the request.
Both Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly support the proposal. In the past, voters have approved similar issues three times, in 1987, 1995 and 2005.
Opposition to the request centers on the fact that if voters approve, the state would borrow more money. That, of course, would put Buckeye State residents in more debt.
But the proposal is a responsible one, calling for what these days is not an excessive amount of borrowing. And remember, money provided through the OPWC can eliminate the need for excessive borrowing by local government entities.
Voters going to the polls today will spot the measure easily. It is the only statewide initiative on the ballot. It is a proposed constitutional amendment, and the title begins with the words, "To fund public infrastructure capital improvements ..."
We recommend voting yes on the measure - again, because approval will provide money for needed infrastructure projects throughout Ohio.