Ohio Senate supports fuel tax increase

| Thursday, March 27, 2003

The Ohio Senate voted March 25 in favor of a bill raising the state’s fuel tax 6 cents a gallon over the next three years.

The two-year transportation budget – approved by a 20 to 12 vote – would also phase out the 3-cent diesel fuel surcharge by 2006.

The state’s $5.9 billion construction budget would increase the 22-cents-a-gallon fuel tax by 2 cents a year through 2005, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. The increase would raise $402 million annually solely for road projects.

When combined with proposed hikes in vehicle registration fees and drivers’ licenses, the Ohio Transportation Department estimated it would generate $580 million more a year.

A joint House-Senate conference committee was scheduled to meet March 26 to hammer out a compromise. House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, told The Toledo Blade a bill could reach Gov. Bob Taft later that day.

The bill would lower the legal threshold for drunken driving from a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent to 0.08, as mandated by a 2000 federal law. The state would lose 2 percent of its federal highway aid if it fails to lower the standard.

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