Public transit funding, cut in initial DeWine proposal, restored by General Assembly

The State of Ohio’s transportation budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 is now complete. Transportation is a vital part of the social determinants of health, as it plays a critical role in access to jobs, health care, and allows for independent living and mobility. As the state ages, transportation will become an increasingly important part of community-planning conversations. In this piece, we will examine the public transportation funding levels during this past transportation budget process.

Typically, the Ohio has funded public transportation through two mechanisms. One is dollars given to ODOT through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which can be “flexed” to public transportation. However, the money can only be used for capital expenses and not for operating expenses. The other is through the general revenue fund.

Two years ago, in the FY2020-2021 transportation budget (HB62), the state earmarked $70 million annually from the general revenue fund, and zero dollars from the federal flex dollars.

Typically, the Ohio has funded public transportation through two mechanisms.

In the FY2022-2023 transportation budget (HB74), the DeWine administration proposed $7 million in general revenue fund dollars, and did not propose a specific amount come from federal flex dollars. The Ohio House Finance Committee approved an amendment from Representative Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Twp.) that proposed increasing the general revenue fund line item up to $23 million, as well as specifically designating $33 million in federal flex dollars towards public transportation, for a total of $56 million annually.

The Ohio Senate Transportation Committee, led by Chairwoman Stephanie Kunze (R-Hillard) and Ranking Member Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), approved an amendment that would increase the amount of state general revenue funds that go towards public transportation to $37 million, with federal flex dollars remaining at $33 million, for a total of $70 million annually to fund public transit.

Ultimately that was signed into law by the governor. However, included in the budget bill is language that says that if public transportation agencies receive additional federal dollars, that the state could request a “clawback” of $29.6 million in general revenue dollars per year.

Funding Source HB 62 Total Appropriation FY 20/21HB 74 Executive Proposal HB 74 As Passed by the House HB 74 As Passed by the Senate/Final Bill Possible Controlling Board Clawback
GRF $140,000,000$14,700,000*$46,300,000$74,000,000 $14,725,556
FHWA (Flex) $0$0$66,000,000$66,000,000$66,000,000
Table courtesy Ohio Public Transportation Association