COLUMBUS: An Ohio House panel has signed off on Republican Gov. John Kasichís proposal to raise around $1.5 billion for state highway projects through Ohio Turnpike bonds.

In an 18-13 vote Wednesday, the House Finance Committee approved the bill. A floor vote could come as soon as Thursday.

Democrats unsuccessfully offered a series of amendments. They wanted Kasichís pledges in writing to freeze tolls for short-range trips and to spend 90 percent of the dealís proceeds in northern Ohio.

The administration says it will deliver on Kasichís promises, but placing precise spending targets in the law would limit flexibility.

Finance Chairman Ron Amstutz (AHMí-stuts) called the plan conservative. He said creative ideas naturally incite debate.

The Ohio Senate, led by Kasichís fellow Republicans, has begun hearings on the bill.