The Ohio House
this week approved the state’s $4.7 billion transportation budget,
according to local media.
The budget bill
approved by the House 63 to 34 on March 12 now heads to the Senate
The bill would
increase the state’s fuel tax 2 cents a year for three years; boost
fees for vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses; and lower
the threshold for drunken driving.
of 2 cents a year through 2005 would make Ohio’s fuel tax, at 28
cents, the highest in the region. When fully implemented, it would
raise $402 million more a year solely for highway projects, The
Toledo Blade reported.
hikes in driver’s license, registration and vehicle-titling fees
would raise another $177 million for a total of $579 million.
The Ohio Highway
Patrol, which now uses 2.9 cents of the fuel tax, would be gradually
transferred to the fees as a funding source, freeing up its share
of the fuel tax for local projects.
federal pressure, an amendment to the bill lowers the state’s blood-alcohol
limit from 0.10 to 0.08 percent blood alcohol content.
A 2000 federal
law requires each state’s legislature to adopt the 0.08 limit by
2004 or lose 2 percent of its highway aid.
Ohio would lose
$49 million in federal money by 2006 if it does not lower the limit,
the newspaper reported.
which began its hearings on the bill March 11, has six session days
to pass the bill before the constitutional deadline of March 31.