COLUMBUS - Gov. Ted Strickland on Saturday signed the state's two-year, $7.8 billion transportation budget but vetoed a provision on charter-school busing that traditional public schools said would make them lose too much money.
The transportation budget also imposes tougher regulations on school bus drivers over objections by the state's largest school employees union.
It's the first piece of legislation Strickland has agreed to sign since the Democrat took office in January. The bill, which provides funding for highway and road projects for the next two years beginning in July, unanimously passed the Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday.
Strickland, who has the power to cut certain provisions in spending bills without vetoing entire measures, took out the provision that allows charter schools to create their own transportation systems.
Charter schools are privately run schools that receive public money.
State law now requires that charters use the transportation system of the traditional school district in which they're located, unless they can get an agreement to opt out. Just like the public money that follows the students, the state transportation dollars would then follow them to the charters.
``I am concerned that there was not sufficient debate about the impact or costs of this provision to our school districts,'' Strickland said in his veto message. ``Several of Ohio's school districts have expressed concern that this item could divert significant funds from their budgets.''
Karen Tabor, a spokeswoman for Republican House Speaker Jon Husted, said Friday that Husted is disappointed over Strickland's line-item veto but looks forward to working with the governor on finding ways to improve transportation for charter school students.
The transportation budget, for the financial year starting July 1, had to be signed by Saturday so that it would be enacted in time for bonds to be let, Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey said. Strickland signed the bill at the governor's residence.
Strickland has called Ohio's implementation of the charter school movement a dismal failure. In his proposed two-year, $53 billion general budget, released earlier this month, he calls for a moratorium on expanding charter schools and a ban on allowing for-profit companies to run them. . . .