Ohio House passes a smaller gas hike than governor sought
The Ohio House yesterday passed a plan to increase the state gasoline tax by 10.7 cents per gallon instead of the 18 cents per gallon Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration sought to help pay for roads and bridge repairs.
House Bill 62 would also increase the diesel fuel tax in Ohio by 20 cents per gallon. The bill would phase in the gas tax increases over two years and the diesel tax increase over three years and ultimately generate $872 million annually. The bill passed on a vote of 71 to 27 on Thursday and now heads to the state Senate, where changes are expected.
“The House-passed bill is far from ideal, but I appreciate the strong bipartisan acknowledgement that our state and local jurisdictions have a major revenue shortage to deal with vital transportation needs,” DeWine said Thursday. "I am very open to dialogue with the legislature on this issue, but I continue to believe that our proposal as introduced provides the money it takes to do the job right. I plan to work with the Senate to improve the House-passed bill and work toward a final agreement that funds vital maintenance, new construction, promotes jobs, makes our state more competitive, and enhances safety for the driving public."
DeWine’s increase would have brought in an estimated $1.2 billion a year to rebuild the state’s roads. The gas tax in Ohio is currently 28 cents per gallon and has not changed since 2005.
DeWine said on Tuesday in his State of the State address that the increase is the bare minimum the state needs to keep its roads and bridges safe anything less would mean either roads won’t be kept up of new projects won’t get done.
The Department of Transportation had said it faced a funding shortfall of about $1 billion on average over the next 11 years. DeWine said that ODOT also faces paying off a record amount of outstanding debt now at $4 billion and will pay $390 million in debt service this coming year.
The gas tax revenue in the House bill would be split 55/45 between the Ohio Department of Transportation and local governments, increasing local revenue to approximately $390 million per year. DeWine’s proposal split the revenues 60/40.
Electric vehicles would be charged a $200 annual registration fee and hybrid vehicles would be charged $100 yearly to contribute to Ohio’s transportation improvements. The House plan would also increase investment in public transit to $100 million annually per year, up from the current $33 million.
The bill would also create a Road to the Future Committee to study Ohio’s infrastructure needs. This committee would report back to the Ohio General Assembly by October 1.
“This transportation budget will have a profound impact on working people, families and small businesses who will see better roads and safer bridges. Ultimately, we struck the right balance between meeting our infrastructure needs and keeping costs contained,” said Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire.
“The House plan fulfills Ohio’s immediate transportation and public safety needs, and looks toward the future,” said Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford. “It provides innovative ways to enhance Ohio’s transportation infrastructure, and ensures that we as a legislature have oversight and accountability over the Ohio Department of Transportation.”