A conference committee at the Ohio statehouse has been assigned to work out differences between the two legislative chambers on a two-year, $7.4 billion transportation budget. The budget includes an increase to the state’s 28-cent fuel tax rate.
State officials have said a deal was needed before April 1 to avoid potential transportation spending delays when the new fiscal year begins July 1.
In an effort to keep transportation spending on track, a select group of legislators from the House and Senate were expected to continue negotiations Tuesday.
Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this year called on legislators to approve an 18-cent increase for gas and diesel purchases. His administration says anything short of his proposal will not do enough for needed repairs and construction.
The Republican governor has cited a $4 billion transportation debt that the state owes.
House lawmakers approved a version of the budget that would increase the 28-cent gas tax by 10.7 cents over two years to 38.7 cents. The 28-cent diesel tax would rise by 20 cents to 48 cents over three years.
Senators revised the budget to authorize a 6-cent increase for gas and diesel.
The Ohio Department of Transportation says 1-cent increase in the fuel tax would raise $67 million per year.
Truckers in the state say they do not mind paying more at the pump to improve the state’s roadways. They note, however, that consumers will end up sharing some of the industry’s additional costs.
Also included in the budget bill is a provision to collect fees on electric and hybrid vehicles.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believes increasing the fuel tax is the most equitable way to generate additional revenue.
“OOIDA and our members aren’t generally opposed to reasonable fuel tax increases,” said OOIDA Manager of Government Affairs Mike Matousek. “It’s the most equitable way to collect revenue to support our nation’s roads and bridges.”
He added that a fuel tax increase is a much better alternative to tolling and vehicle-miles-traveled taxes.
“However, revenue generated from fuel taxes must be spent on the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, and not diverted to non-transportation projects.”
The Ohio Constitution does require fuel tax revenue to be used solely for road and bridge work.
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