The Ohio Senate last week approved a $7.6 billion, two-year transportation budget that includes authority to issue $1.5 billion of bonds backed by a new Ohio Turnpike credit to generate up to $3 billion for transportation projects.

The House passed House Bill 51 in early March. The measure is now headed to a joint conference committee to hammer out final language.

The bill includes a provision that guarantees that 90% of the bond proceeds would be spent on projects in northern Ohio, within 75 miles of where the toll road is located. The new debt would be subordinate to $540 million of outstanding debt and would be backed by future toll revenues.

"House Bill 51 is arguably one of the greatest jobs bills we will pass this General Assembly," state Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said in a statement.

The Ohio Turnpike Commission began issuing requests for qualifications for a finance team on the first tranche of the new debt in late February.

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