Senate District 31
Jay Hottinger
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Providing for Ohio's Critical Infrastructure
A Guest Column by State Senator Jay Hottinger (R-Newark)
August 27, 2021
If you’ve turned on the news recently chances are you’ve heard that Congress is negotiating an enormous and expansive infrastructure bill. Some Ohioans may be surprised to know that the Ohio General Assembly passes its own version of an infrastructure plan every two years—the biennial transportation budget. This legislation funds the maintenance of Ohio’s roadways and bridges, and the budgets of several state agencies.
 
I was proud to support the most recent transportation budget, which passed the Ohio Senate unanimously and with bipartisan support earlier this year. Among the many provisions included in this legislation are, $318 million for highway safety projects, $5 billion for state and local roads, and $8 million in Ohio EPA grants for electric vehicle charging stations.
 
Local officials best know the needs of their communities and residents. That is why the Senate included provisions in the transportation budget that increased infrastructure funding for local governments. State funding was also increased for public transit, bringing the total to $74 million over the biennium. The Public Works Commission, which provides funding for local road projects, received $116 million over the biennium. This allows local governments to improve roadways within their jurisdiction.
 
Traditionally, infrastructure has been defined as our system of roadways and bridges. But as technology continues to rapidly change, so do the ways that people, businesses, and schools interact. Yet nearly one million Ohioans lack access to reliable high-speed internet.

With people working and learning from home, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us that improving Ohio’s broadband infrastructure needed to be at the forefront of public policy.
 
The biennial state operating budget, which was signed into law by the Governor in June, provides upwards of $250 million in grants to help cover the cost of last mile connectivity for households that would otherwise not be able to afford the service extension. In some areas of the 31st Senate district, free Wi-Fi in a parking lot is the best and most reliable access point for students to do homework or for employees to work from home. I am hopeful those days will soon be behind us. I am confident that this funding will directly support job creators, employees, teachers, and parents in our part of the state and throughout.
 
In addition to the transportation and operating budgets, I successfully advocated for a number of amendments in recently passed House Bill 168 that will have a positive impact on Ohio’s infrastructure.
 
House Bill 168 provides $422 million in federal funding to municipalities and townships with less than 50,000 residents, while also designating $250 million for water and sewer quality projects. Additionally, $84 million has been provided to improve infrastructure of Ohio’s pediatric behavioral health facilities. It is my hope that these funds will support the many communities in rural Ohio.
 
I look forward to continuing my work as an advocate for the 31st District when the General Assembly reconvenes in September. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback on these issues, as well as other matters important to our state.  I can be reached by phone at 614-466-5838 or by e-mail at Hottinger@ohiosenate.gov.  You may also reach me by mail at State Senator Jay Hottinger, Senate Building, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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