Bill would delay Ohio’s fuel tax boost

| 4/20/2004

With fuel prices in Ohio exceeding $1.70 a gallon, a state lawmaker has introduced legislation to postpone for a year a 2-cent-per-gallon increase in the state motor vehicle fuel tax.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Grendell, R-Chesterland, also would permit county auditors to test the quality of fuel sold in their counties, a power they do not have, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Gov. Bob Taft opposes postponing the scheduled fuel tax increase, to take effect July 1, “because we need the money to fund the jobs and progress plan which is rebuilding highways across the state,” Orest Holubec, Taft’s spokesman, said.

Grendell told the newspaper his proposal – HB458 – was “inspired by” President Bush, who has opposed increasing the 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal fuel tax. Grendell said the “average Ohioan is getting nickled and dimed to death” with tax increases.

The state fuel tax is 24 cents per gallon. Last year, Taft signed a highway construction bill that increased the fuel tax by up to 6 cents over three years. The first 2-cent increase took effect July 1, 2003. The final 2-cent increase, scheduled for July 1, 2005, would be suspended if Ohio’s return on the federal fuel taxes sent to Washington increased from 89 cents to 95 cents on the dollar and funding penalties for the state’s heavy use of ethanol were ended.

Grendell’s bill also would create a fuel price oversight committee to review fuel pricing practices and the availability of alternative fuels.