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Fix Our Roads Ohio Clips February 25, 2019

Articles

  • Toledo Blade - Editorial: Ohio's gas tax inevitable
  • Columbus Dispatch / Dayton Daily News - DeWine said he’s considering reopening state office in D.C.
  • Youngstown Business Journal - Proposed Gas Tax Would Bring Extra $10.3M for Roads
  • Athens News - Gas-tax hike could be boon to local roads
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer/Columbus Dispatch – Tom Suddes: Gov. Mike DeWine is plain spoken about gas tax, has death penalty on the agenda
  • Crain's Cleveland Business - Editorial: Get moving
  • Ashtabula Star Beacon - Editorial: The price of not raising taxes
  • WCMH The Spectrum (Columbus) - Proposed gas tax increase would bolster ODOT, local governments' budgets; drivers give mixed reviews
  • Akron Beacon Journal - Editorial: DeWine’s candid conversation about the gas tax
  • Youngstown Vindicator - Editorial: Move cautiously, responsibly on increasing Ohio gas tax
  • Lorain Morning Journal - Ohio, Lorain County pleased with fuel tax proposal
  • Warren Tribune Chronicle - DeWine talks gas tax hike
  • Ohio Public Radio - Ohioans Express Concern Over Gas Tax Hike
  • New Philadelphia Times Reporter - Gas tax increase would bring about $1 million to Tuscarawas County
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer - Poll: Should Ohio increase its gas tax 18 cents a gallon as proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine?
  • Hannah Capitol Connection - ODOT Releases Spreadsheets on Municipal Distribution of Gas Tax Revenue
  • Gongwer News Service - Some In House GOP Not Fully Sold On Size Of Gas Tax Increase; Local Impacts Detailed
  • Knox Pages - Proposed gas tax increase could nearly double local road repair funds
  • Ohio Chamber of Commerce - Governor’s Solution to $1 B Transportation Budget Shortfall Includes Gas Tax Hike

Press Releases

  • Ohio Department of Transportation - ODOT releases local impact

Articles

Toledo Blade

February 25, 2019

Editorial: Ohio's gas tax inevitable

https://www.toledoblade.com/opinion/editorials/2019/02/25/ohio-gas-tax-inevitable-governor-mike-dewine/stories/20190219153

Gov. Mike DeWine inherited a nasty surprise when he became governor last month — a $1.5 billion hole in Ohio’s transportation budget.

To deal with that, the governor announced that his first two-year state budget will include an 18-cent gas-tax hike. Without it, the state will not have money to finance repairs and improve Ohio’s highway and bridge system.

Under Mr. DeWine’s predecessor, John Kasich, the state used $1.5 billion in Ohio Turnpike bonds to finance road repair and construction projects around the state, not limited to the Turnpike.

Now that money is gone and Mr. DeWine must find another source of funding for safety-related repairs, multimodal upgrades and improvements to roads, bridges, transit and other transportation needs.

The gas tax — unpalatable though it may be — is the obvious and most sensible way to go.

All the states bordering Ohio except one, Kentucky, already have higher gas taxes than Ohio’s present 28-cent per gallon tax.

An 18-cent increase would still leave Ohio’s gas tax lower than Pennsylvania’s 57.7-cent per-gallon tax. And each penny of gas taxes will generate about $70 million.

The gas-tax issue the new governor now faces comes with two particularly nasty elements. First, his predecessors kicked the can down the road for so long — Ohio’s last gas-tax increase was in 2005 — that the state now faces severe problems with infrastructure needs. And second, the hike Mr. DeWine has proposed is necessary just to maintain the status quo. It will not be enough to fund anything new, Mr. DeWine laments.

To address this Mr. DeWine suggests Ohio follow the lead of neighboring states Michigan and Indiana and index the state gas tax to the cost of living.

This is sensible idea. Periodic, predictable gas-tax increases will certainly be easier to take. And a stable, adequate tax revenue to care for Ohio’s roads is required to keep up with maintenance.

Mr. DeWine and the General Assembly have to raise gas taxes, which is likely to hurt some Ohioans. But they can fix the system that led to such a large one-time increase, which should at least lessen the sting.

Columbus Dispatch / Dayton Daily News

February 25, 2019

DeWine said he’s considering reopening state office in D.C.

https://www.dispatch.com/news/20190225/dewine-said-hes-considering-reopening-state-office-in-dc

By  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
WASHINGTON — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is considering opening a Washington, D.C. office, a move that would reverse his predecessor’s decision to shutter such an office.

DeWine, in Washington for his first National Governors Association meeting since taking office last month, said Sunday that his staff is consulting with congressional offices to determine how useful it would be to reopen the D.C. office.

John Kasich closed it when he became governor, but before that, Gov. Ted Strickland and his predecessors had kept an office not far from the U.S. Capitol staffed with people responsible for tracking federal issues.

“It’s not just how we tie into congressional offices, but how we tie into the administration with different departments, agencies, so these are things we’re looking at, trying to figure out exactly how to do it,” DeWine said, saying a D.C. office would track more routine federal matters, such as grants and other dollars that the state can compete for, as well as larger agenda items.

He said the office would be selective in what it lobbies for.

“I think when you have an opinion about everything, I’m not sure anybody listens to you. You’ll find we’ll be fairly judicious in the contacts we have as far as issues.”

Many of the conversations, he said, will remain private. For example, DeWine again refused Sunday to comment on President Donald Trump’s national-emergency declaration, a move that could draw federal dollars away from a handful of military construction projects in the state. “I’m not going to weigh in publicly on that,” he said.

DeWine also defended himself against criticism by 2018 election opponent Richard Cordray that he had broken a promise when he proposed a gas-tax increase of 18 cents a gallon to pay for crumbling roads and bridges. DeWine said he announced during the campaign that he planned to put together a commission to receive input on how to pay for state infrastructure and vowed to consider their recommendations.

“That’s what I said during the campaign, and I think what I’ve done is consistent,” he said.

He acknowledged that raising the gas tax “is not something that anyone wants to do,” but he said the gravity of the problem necessitated his proposal.

“I’m not going to go borrow more money,” he said. “We’re already paying $390 million more a year just to service the debt on projects that are gone. The credit cards are maxed out.”

He said that while federal infrastructure legislation “would be welcome,” “it’s not going to eliminate the hole that we’re in.”

“I take the world as I find it,” he said. “I can’t wish that something else would’ve happened five years ago or 10 years ago, either in Ohio or at the federal level. Governors deal with the world, and we deal with the reality of what we find. If I don’t deal with Ohio’s infrastructure problems, people are going to look at those roads and see where we are two years from now and four years from now, and they are going to be understandably and correctly furious that we didn’t do anything, that we didn’t take the action that we needed to take.”

Youngstown Business Journal

February 25, 2019

Proposed Gas Tax Would Bring Extra $10.3M for Roads

https://businessjournaldaily.com/under-proposed-gas-tax-valley-would-see-extra-10-3m-for-roads/

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Should the 18-cent gas tax increase proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine last week come to fruition, the Mahoning Valley would see an extra $10,356,845 for road work in fiscal year 2020, according to estimates from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The proposal would increase the per-gallon tax on gas to 46 cents, adding an extra $427.7 million in funding – a grand total of $1.01 billion – for road repairs in the upcoming fiscal year. By fiscal 2024, the tax would generate $1.09 billion in funding.

Revenue from the tax is divided equally among Ohio’s 88 counties, with each municipality’s funding amount calculated from the number of vehicles registered in it. Funds can only be used for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of roads, per the state constitution.

Under the tax proposal, Trumbull County would see the largest increase in funding with an extra $4.2 million coming in, a total of $9,904,644 in fiscal 2020. By fiscal 2024, the county would receive $10,673,993 in transportation funding. Warren would remain the largest recipient with $2,072,663 in fiscal 2020, followed by Niles with $1,136,824. Girard would receive $758,162, the city of Hubbard $512,234 and Liberty Township $239,104.

In Mahoning County, the tax would bring in $8,770,473 for roadways, an increase of $3,837,654 over the estimate for the current 28-cent-per-gallon tax. Youngstown would receive $3,253,473 with the new tax is fiscal 2020 and $3,503,565 in fiscal 2024. Meanwhile, the city of Canfield would see $560,464, Boardman $605,218, Austintown $525,443 and Canfield Township $106,124 in fiscal 2020.

Columbiana County would see an extra $2,333,185 in funding should the proposal be approved the legislature, bringing the road funding in the county to $5,593,771 in fiscal 2020. The city of Salem would see the most money, with an estimated $709,753, while East Liverpool would receive $557,655, Columbiana $417,748 and Salem Township $151,989.

A full list of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s funding estimates under the new tax, sorted by county, is available for download as an Excel file here.

Athens News

February 25, 2019

Gas-tax hike could be boon to local roads

https://www.athensnews.com/news/local/gas-tax-hike-could-be-boon-to-local-roads/article_4692f5a4-3864-11e9-af8c-abbe93e91a02.html

By Kayla Beard

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration are proposing a 18-cents-per-gallon increase to the Motor Fuel User Fee, also known as the gas tax, for the purpose of maintaining Ohio’s road systems.

The proposal was presented with the governor’s transportation budget to the Ohio House Finance Committee last Thursday, after several earlier hearings during which state law enforcement and highway officials spoke about the need to increase revenue to fix and maintain state and locally controlled roads.

Many Ohio University students were still in diapers the last time Ohio approved a gas-tax increase. Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks said during a hearing Feb. 13 that the last increase to gas tax revenue came in 2003 when the state Legislature passed increases of 2 cents per gallon for three consecutive years, equaling 6 cents total.

“That increased revenue made a big difference at the time. But the value of a dollar today is far less than it was in 2003,” Marchbanks said, adding that a dollar in 2003 is now worth just 58 cents.

“Ohio’s motor fuel tax revenues have, at the same time, remained relatively flat over the last 15 years,” Marchbanks said. “The miles people are driving on Ohio’s roads is at an all-time high, but increased fuel efficiency – which is a good thing for motorists – means they use less gas…. Motorists are putting more wear and tear on our roads than ever, but the money they are contributing for maintenance is not keeping up.”

The proposed legislation, House Bill 62, would increase the gas tax by 18-cents-per-gallon and ensure that the rate for future years would increase in relation to inflation, according to Marchbanks’ testimony. The bill is under review by the House Finance Committee.

Ohio House Rep. Jay Edwards, who serves on that committee and represents the 94th District, containing most of Athens County, as of Sunday afternoon had not responded to a request for comment sent Friday morning.

ATHENS COUNTY ENGINEER Jeff Maiden said last week that the impact of inadequate state revenue is being felt locally, as well. He’s been advocating for an increase to the gas tax since 2014, and possibly before then, according to Maiden and the annual reports that he has issued.

“The biggest issue facing county engineers today is the lack of funding needed to adequately repair county infrastructure,” Maiden stated in his 2014 annual report. “Our primary sources of funding are the License Plate Tax and the Gasoline Excise Tax from the state, and the local Permissive License tax. We looked at the recent history of constant revenue sources versus operating costs, and discovered that revenues peaked in 2007 and have been declining, while labor and material costs have been steadily increasing.”

Maiden’s story had not changed much when he spoke with The NEWS last Wednesday. Inflation, he said, has increased by between 50 and 57 percent since 2005.

“Wages, material, asphalt, concrete, everything has increased in cost but our revenue, our income, is basically the same,” Maiden said. “We still have the same infrastructure, 362 miles of road… a debilitating infrastructure… It’s not about just maintaining anymore. We’re so far behind, we have substantial catching up to do.”

The county’s budget for Maiden’s office is roughly $4.4 million annually, he said, and gas-tax revenue comprises just under $2.4 million of that. “In past years, it runs approximately 57 percent of our income,” Maiden said.

Particularly for smaller, rural counties, Maiden said that revenue from the gas tax is “really important,” whereas the same revenue may not matter as much to larger counties. Each county gets the same percentage of the motor-fuel tax revenue, one-88th of the total, according to spreadsheets provided by ODOT.

“If you take Franklin County’s budget, they’re roughly three times as big as we are… That’s a small part of a large county’s budget, 4, 5 percent,” Maiden said of gas-tax revenue. Raising that tax and increasing that revenue is “critical for our survival,” he said of smaller counties.

According to a report published in January 2019 by Fix Our Roads Ohio, “Ohio has one of the largest and most active transportation systems in the United States, with 262,350 total road lane miles and 44,657 bridges. Ohio is located within one day’s drive of 60 percent of the population of the United States and Canada.”

Fix Our Roads Ohio is self-described as “a coalition of stakeholders that have united in an effort to educate state leaders on the critical needs of Ohio’s transportation infrastructure.” The report lists an increase in the gas tax as one reasonable solution to the state’s road funding issues, which have been deemed an “impending crisis” by ODOT Director Marchbanks.

According to a newsletter from the Ohio Municipal League, distributed Feb. 8, newly installed Gov. DeWine commissioned a committee to review Ohio’s transportation funding problem when he took office in January. After meeting for two days in early February, and hearing testimony from various stakeholders in Ohio’s transportation infrastructure, the majority of committee members agreed that an increase in the gas tax would be necessary.

“On Tuesday (Feb 5) and Wednesday (Feb 6)... the majority of the members on the Governor's Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure recommended to the Legislature that they increase the motor-fuel tax in order to maintain and improve Ohio's transportation system,” the newsletter states.

 

Cleveland Plain Dealer/Columbus Dispatch

February 24, 2019

Gov. Mike DeWine is plain spoken about gas tax, has death penalty on the agenda: Thomas Suddes

https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2019/02/gov-mike-dewine-is-plain-spoken-about-gas-tax-less-forthcoming-on-death-penalty-thomas-suddes.html

Thomas Suddes, cleveland.com

Give Gov. Mike DeWine this: He squelched the near-comeback of George Orwell’s Newspeak at the Statehouse last week. DeWine, a Cedarville Republican, called for an 18-cent increase in Ohio’s gasoline tax, effective July 1.

Contrast DeWine’s plain speaking with the words of his Transportation Infrastructure Advisory Committee. (The committee appears to be one element in a silk-smooth public-relations campaign, launched last year, to push for highway repairs and construction.) It “recommended an increase in the motor fuel user fee.” Calling the gas tax a “user fee” is like calling the sales tax on, say, clothing, a “a nudity prevention fee.” Somewhere, George Orwell, author of “1984,” had to be smiling.

The gas tax is now 28 cents per gallon. The last increase was in 2005. If passed as proposed, the new 46-cent-per-gallon gas tax would rise each year, beginning July 1, 2020, “at the same rate as the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI),” according to the Legislative Service Commission. (For the 12 months that ended in January, the increase in the CPI for all urban consumers was 1.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

The General Assembly, run by the governor’s fellow Republicans, will approve a gas-tax increase, though legislators could shave DeWine’s request by, say, a penny to save face for legislative newbies dumb enough to have vowed that they’d never support a tax increase. Given the condition of Ohio’s roads, voting against a gas-tax increase would amount to a vote in favor of potholes.

Also last week, DeWine, arguably, if indirectly, may have put Ohio’s death penalty on Ohio’s agenda. He said he’ll postpone further executions until the state can be sure its lethal injection procedure and the drugs it employs pass constitutional muster. (That assumes they can.) In January, 138 people were on Ohio’s Death Row, the Rehabilitation and Correction Department reported.

Twenty states have never had, or have abolished, the death penalty, including four of Ohio’s sister Northwest Territory states: Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (Indiana, no surprise, and Ohio are the outliers.) The only European country that still carries out the death penalty is Belarus, the BBC reports. And in 2017, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, the United States ranked eighth in the world in confirmed executions, outranked by such shrines of civility as China (“thousands” of executions); Iran (at least 507 executions); Saudi Arabia (at least 146); Iraq (at least 125); Pakistan (at least 60); Egypt (at least 35); and Somalia (24 executions). The United States had 23.

DeWine, as a state senator, was among the co-sponsors of Ohio’s 1981 death penalty law, Senate Bill 1. Prime sponsor was then-Sen. Richard H. Finan, of suburban Cincinnati; among the other Senate GOP co-sponsors were future Gov. John R. Kasich; future Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, of Bucyrus; and the late Thomas A. Van Meter, of Ashland, a pivotal Ohio conservative.

Could the governor be considering a change in position after 38 years?

DeWine is arguably the highest ranking Ohio officeholder with the lengthiest and best-known Right to Life commitment. True, in contrast to a convicted criminal, an unborn child (not a term or concept all Ohioans agree on) is innocent of any crimes. But the death penalty, as actually imposed and administered, is a barbarism. And on some level, most Ohioans instinctively know it.

That’s why the legal system, which roughly reflects a community’s mentality, tolerates, arguably encourages, endless death penalty appeals. And in August, with Pope Francis’s approval, the Catholic catechism was reworded to say that the “death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”

DeWine, a GOP conservative, is likely the one Ohio officeholder in recent times with the political and personal merit badges – no disrespect intended – that could position him to persuade Ohioans to end the death penalty. Given DeWine’s range of public service (as Greene County’s prosecuting attorney; state senator; lieutenant governor; U.S. senator; attorney general) and age (72), being governor could be DeWine’s last elected office. It’s legacy time. And moral leadership in helping end Ohio’s death penalty would be a lasting Mike DeWine legacy.

Thomas Suddes, a member of the editorial board, writes from Athens.

 

Crain's Cleveland Business

February 24, 2019

Editorial: Get moving

https://www.crainscleveland.com/editorials/crains-editorial-get-moving

Gov. Mike DeWine is inclined to go big when it comes to raising Ohio's gas tax to help maintain and upgrade the state's roads and bridges.

DeWine intends to propose an increase of 18 cents per gallon, to 46 cents from the current 28 cents. The 64% hike, if passed by the state Legislature, would be Ohio's first gas-tax increase since 2005. It would raise an estimated $1.2 billion annually — about $725 million for the state's highways and bridges, and about $480 million for local governments' streets. The Columbus Dispatch crunched some numbers and determined that a motorist "with a vehicle that averages 30 miles a gallon who drives 15,000 miles annually would pay an extra $90 a year" if the request is approved as currently outlined.

"You have to have a gas-tax increase, there's no doubt," DeWine said last week. "The day of reckoning is finally here, and we have an obligation to face that."

That's a realistic view of the role government plays in maintaining the infrastructure of a state in which transportation and logistics is a significant driver (sorry) of economic activity.

As The Dispatch pointed out, former Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers in 2013 "bonded against future turnpike revenue, raising $1.5 billion. The move masked the state's gas-tax revenue deficiency, and that money essentially ran out this year."

So now it's time to stop kicking the can down the road.

There are certain things we don't know yet, such as whether a gas-tax increase would be applied immediately or incrementally. DeWine wants to index the tax to inflation to prevent the state from falling behind in funding. Given that Jack Marchbanks, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, has said the state's road funding need is around $1 billion a year, the proposal appears to be in line with financial demands and reasonable for motorists, given that the tax hasn't risen in 14 years.

This will need to be a fast process, since the biennial state transportation budget needs to pass the General Assembly by March 31. But the state will be addressing problems that have been festering for many years.

report card issued last week by the Cleveland Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a D+ to the infrastructure of the five northernmost counties of Northeast Ohio: Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina. Broken into subcategories, that grade included a C- for bridges and a D+ for both dams and roads. That's not a stellar report card, obviously, but it wasn't really an indictment of the region. As Crain's government reporter Jay Miller pointed out in an article about the report, the D+ was the same grade the national ASCE gave to the United States as a whole in a 2017 survey.

The big problems, as the engineering group pointed out, are a lack of available funding at the state and federal levels, as well as the age of the regional infrastructure. Among the group's recommendations in the report card was an increase in the state gas tax to fund needed bridge and roadway repairs, so the DeWine administration now is aligned with those goals.

A key piece of the transportation puzzle — bolstering public transit — still needs to be solved, since gas-tax money can only be used for roads and bridges. State Reps. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood, and Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, last week proposed a bill to spend $150 million a year on public transit: $50 million from flexible federal money and $100 million out of the state's general fund. That would be a huge boost from the state's current $40 million in spending.

It's too early to say if that proposal is viable. But we strongly encourage lawmakers to look closely at whether increased funding for transit can fit in the budget, given the value public transportation has in reducing congestion and connecting people with job opportunities.

 

Ashtabula Star Beacon

February 24, 2019

Editorial: The price of not raising taxes

http://www.starbeacon.com/opinion/editorials/the-price-of-not-raising-taxes/article_fb454ea5-b7de-55f2-995e-3942eff4effa.html

As the saying goes, the bill always comes due.

Ohioans could learn that first-hand at the pump soon, with Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration announcing Thursday it would recommend increasing the state gas tax by 18 cents per gallon beginning July 1. The move would increase the current 28-cent tax to 46 cents.

The first reaction for many people will obviously be sticker shock. On the surface, an 18-cent increase is a huge spike all at once. It would generate about $1.2 billion for the state’s $7.43 billion two-year transportation budget, split between the Ohio Department of Transportation and local governments.

But the reality is Ohio has not increased the gas tax in 14 years, since it went to its current 28-cent level in 2005. Of neighboring states, only Kentucky at 26 cents per gallon is currently lower, and Pennsylvania’s 58-cent-per-gallon tax would still be higher after the increase.

The proposal would provide ODOT with $750 million additional dollars in the 2020 fiscal year to pave roads, fix guardrails, fill potholes, clear snow and ice, maintain bridges and improve safety. The Associated Press also reports it would provide $1.6 million for every county in the state.

But, the tax increase is only being pitched now because past administrations allowed the state to get to the precipice of a “transportation crisis” with no funds for highway improvement projects in the state and deteriorating roads. The administration has said contracts for road maintenance that totaled $2.4 billion in 2014 could decline to $1.5 billion in 2020, and a $1 billion gap remains in the ODOT budget, the AP reported.

The tax increase is no slam dunk to win approval in the statehouse, Democrats have expressed skepticism and many Republican lawmakers have also been cautious to embrace the plan. Such an increase will certainly put a burden on many working class families, particularly in large rural regions like Ashtabula County. ODOT estimates, on average, Ohio drivers would pay $2 more at the pump per week — though that number will fluctuate based on the efficiency of individual cars.

But even critics of the gas tax admit the infrastructure funding is needed — and now. Deteriorating roads are not just an issue of car wear and tear but safety, as crashes increase on roads that are in poor condition.

The biggest lesson for state lawmakers should be the importance of planning and introducing reasonable tax adjustments. The best thing about the DeWine administration’s proposal is that, going forward, the gas tax would be adjusted annually with the consumer price index — as it should be.

Fiscal responsibility comes in many forms, it is not only simply being as efficient as possible with tax dollars — which we fully support — but it also requires being as forward thinking as possible. By subscribing to a rigid anti-tax philosophy and not raising the gas tax for a decade and a half, the state left itself without adequate funding for infrastructure or for local governments responsible for maintaining those roads.

In addition, when reality set in and the state could simply not stretch its dollars any further, the adjustment will come in a format taxpayers will really feel. If the state had been increasing the gas tax by a cent or two each year to adjust for rising costs, taxpayers might still be paying 46 cents per gallon next year, but the gradual change would have been a much easier pill to swallow.

 

WCMH The Spectrum (Columbus)

February 24, 2019

Proposed gas tax increase would bolster ODOT, local governments' budgets; drivers give mixed reviews

https://www.nbc4i.com/news/the-spectrum/proposed-gas-tax-increase-would-bolster-odot-local-governments-budgets-drivers-give-mixed-reviews/1802760636

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — You may not notice it, but for every gallon of gasoline you buy here in Ohio, $0.28 of the price you pay goes to the state to help pay to build and maintain roads and bridges. However, if Gov. Mike DeWine gets his way, the gas tax will go up by $0.18 per gallon.

The DeWine administration wants the increase to go into effect in July and to build in an automatic annual adjustment to account for inflation. If the proposal is approved by state lawmakers, the hike will begin this summer, making the total gas tax $0.46 per gallon. This increase would generate an additional $1.2 billion for Ohio’s transportation budget and give Ohio the fifth highest gasoline tax in the country.

Drivers are giving the proposal mixed reviews, saying the proposed $0.18 increase is too much.

However, Ohio’s neighbors in Pennsylvania are currently paying the highest gas tax in the nation at $0.77 per gallon. It’s considered a use tax because the people who use the streets, highways and bridges will pay for it.

“That seems the most feasible means of funding our infrastructure system in Ohio,” Chris Zeigler, executive director of the Ohio office of the American Petroleum Institute.

On the other hand, critics say it’s not a true use tax because everyone who buys any product that is transported on trucks will pay higher prices and that a tax like this will always disproportionately affect low-income families.

Zeigler says all drivers should pay the tax, including those who drive electric vehicles.

The money generated from the proposed tax increase would be used to repair state roads and bridges. Local governments would also get a share to use for local road projects.

Without the tax hike, the Ohio Department of Transportation would face a budget shortfall of $1.6 billion. The state has not raised the gas tax rate in more than a decade and members of DeWine’s administration say that’s why the increase is needed now.

“The previous administrations were resourceful in using debt,” ODOT director Dr. Jack Marchbanks said. “The DeWine administration believes that you can use debt but you have to be responsible, and we felt that more debt was unreasonable.”

Marchbanks told the Ohio House Finance Committee that for every percent the gas tax is raised, it will generate between $42 million and $44 million dollars for ODOT alone, on top of the share that local governments would get.

 

Akron Beacon Journal

February 23, 2019

Editorial: DeWine’s candid conversation about the gas tax

https://www.ohio.com/opinion/20190222/beacon-journalohiocom-editorial-board-dewines-candid-conversation-about-gas-tax

Practically everyone understood what Mike DeWine was saying about highways and the gas tax during the race for governor. In playing safe politically, the candidate said that if elected, he would form a commission to examine the need for additional revenue, weigh its findings and chart a path forward. He added that he was prepared to have a candid conversation with Ohioans. On Thursday, that moment for candor arrived. The governor proposed an increase in the state gas tax of 18 cents per gallon.

No newly elected governor wants to raise taxes as a first item. DeWine deserves credit for facing the truth about the need, or what the commission and others, including stakeholders and analysts have concluded. The state lacks sufficient revenue for its transportation priorities. Officials already postponed in this fiscal year $156 million in bridge maintenance projects. The inflationary cost of highway construction materials and labor has eroded the value of a $1 the past 14 years, the purchasing power 58 cents today.

As the governor told a forum on Tuesday, “The day of reckoning is finally here, and we have an obligation to face that.”

The governor’s predecessor, John Kasich, borrowed against toll revenue from the Ohio Turnpike. That helped for a time. Now the revenue stream has been tapped out. Might the state borrow to raise additional money? That has been the tendency in the past, to such an extent the state currently pays $390 million a year to service the debt.

So a higher gas tax is the preferable option. The additional 18 cents would be the first increase since 2005, when the state completed a 6-cent increase, implemented in phases during three years. The state tax would climb to 46 cents per gallon in all, comparable to Michigan (44.1 cents) and Indiana (42.9). Pennsylvania has set its rate at 58.7 cents, with West Virginia at 35.7 cents and Kentucky at 26 cents.

What would be the cost for Ohio drivers? The state Department of Transportation has calculated a range of scenarios. Roughly speaking, the expense would be $100 per year, the principle of a user fee at work. What would motorists receive in return? The increase would generate a projected $1.2 billion a year for highway construction and maintenance, with more than $400 million annually flowing to local governments.

For instance, the city of Akron would see its share grow in fiscal 2020 from the current estimate of $5.3 million to $9.2 million.

The transportation landscape of the state will be highlighted often in the debate, Ohio with the second-largest inventory of bridges, the third-largest freight volume, the fourth-largest interstate highway system (in miles). Transportation matters to the state economy and the quality of life, something apparent in Akron’s worn and potholed streets. In that way, the governor has added a helpful element, indexing the gas tax to inflation, reflecting a responsible long-term approach to public works.

No surprise many state lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, have withheld judgment. They should take care to look closely at what the governor has proposed. If anything, public transit deserves additional resources, state general revenue funding for transportation down 42 percent in real dollars the past decade. What lawmakers also would do well to bear in mind is that the shortfall in money for highways, streets and bridges reflects the practice of short-term thinking at the Statehouse, resulting in a decade of disinvestment in other areas, too, including higher education and human services.

On one front, the governor now proposes to break that misguided pattern. In doing so, he has brought the overdue element of candor to the discussion.

 

Youngstown Vindicator

February 23, 2019

Editorial: Move cautiously, responsibly on increasing Ohio gas tax

https://www.vindy.com/news/2019/feb/23/move-cautiously-responsibly-on-increasin/

M ost motorists who each day valiantly venture onto the crater-filled terrain of many roads in the Mahoning Valley likely would agree that quality repairs are long past due.

But when it comes to how much John Q. Taxpayer should fork over to state government to finance and execute those premium repairs, that unanimity dissipates fast.

And so it goes that some discord has greeted Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s rollout Thursday of a proposed Department of Transportation budget for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 that includes a 64 percent increase in the state’s gasoline tax – from 28 cents per gallon to 46 cents per gallon.

As such, ODOT leaders proposing the first increase in the tax in more than 15 years owe it to Ohioans to justify the hefty increase and other aspects of the proposal that have met with initial skepticism, questions and opposition from several segments of the state.

The ODOT plan unveiled this week therefore should serve as a starting point for debate and possible revision, not a finish line.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks unveiled the governor’s proposal to the Ohio House Finance Committee on Thursday. He told panel members that revenue raised in the first year of the higher tax would amount to roughly $1.2 billion and would be split between ODOT and local governments.

The funding would be funneled into construction, reconstruction, maintenance, and repair of highways and bridges.

In fiscal year 2020, Marchbanks said the proposal will provide 750 million additional dollars to pave roads, fix guardrails, fill potholes, clear snow and ice, maintain bridges and improve safety.

The increased revenue would trickle down to local governments as well. According to ODOT estimates, over the first year, the increased gas tax would bump Austintown’s annual gas-tax allotment from $238,665 to $525,443, Boardman’s from $270,320 to $605,218, Warren’s from $1.20 million to $2.07 million and Youngstown’s from $1.88 million to $3.25 million.

It is now incumbent upon ODOT to convincingly justify the need for such a large-scale bump. Marchbanks began that mission Thursday, telling legislators, “Due to flat revenues, highway-construction inflation and mounting debt payments, ODOT is in jeopardy of being unable to fulfill its mission.”

Those promoting the tax also will point out that of all five states that border Ohio, only Pennsylvania has a higher tax at 56 cents per gallon.

But if the full 18-cent hike were to be adopted, Ohio would jettison from 29th highest gas tax in the nation to fifth highest overnight, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation.

That sudden added pinch, particularly for low-income Ohioans, has triggered some legitimate concerns. For example, state Rep. Adam Miller, D-Columbus, said he is bothered by the regressive nature of the gas tax – meaning it has a bigger impact on low-income Ohioans.

“For my constituents this would really hurt their family budgets,” he said. “I’m a very hard sell on this,” he told the Columbus Dispatch on Thursday. Several Valley leaders have echoed similar fears about the proposal, especially with the looming job losses from the soon-to-be-idled General Motors Lordstown plant .

Some county leaders also are scratching their heads over the allocation formula to counties proposed for the new funding.

Mahoning County commissioners question why it’s fair to give every county the same share when the number of road miles varies widely. Mahoning and Trumbull counties are each responsible for about 450 miles of county roads, while smaller counties have 150 miles but would receive the same amount of funding.

State leaders have an obligation to densely populated urban counties to explain why they would be shortchanged.

Still other critics legitimately question the automatic increases built in to the proposal. In its current format, the gasoline tax would increase each year by the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index with no review by legislators.

These and other concerns deserve a robust airing. Those pushing the plan should consider public hearings on the tax hike throughout the state.

Given there are about four months before the new biennial budget must be passed, there’s adequate time to proceed cautiously and responsibly with a full and robust discussion and possible tweaking to ensure maximum fairness for all parties affected by the tax while doing the best job possible to repair our state’s bruised transportation network.

 

Lorain Morning Journal

February 23, 2019

Ohio, Lorain County pleased with fuel tax proposal

https://www.morningjournal.com/news/lorain-county/ohio-lorain-county-pleased-with-fuel-tax-proposal/article_8fc338e0-36b3-11e9-998b-8fa3b60a5f88.html

By Briana Contreras

The lack of funding for Ohio's unsafe and deteriorating public highways, roads and bridges has brought on new initiatives from officials to repair them.

Ohio has nation's fourth largest interstate system, second largest inventory of bridges and sixth highest number of vehicle miles traveled, new initiatives like Fix Our Roads Ohio, also known as FOR Ohio, have started.

This coalition consists of business, local government and transportation industry leaders which educates Ohioans and policymakers on the critical needs of transportation infrastructure, according to a news release.

FOR Ohio advocate for funding solutions that will provide long-term investments that will benefit Ohio in its transportation future, according to the release.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Feb. 21 a new proposal to raise Ohio's motor vehicle fuel tax by 18 cents a gallon, which will fund critical road and bridge maintenance through the state.

This will take Ohio's current 28 to 46 cents a gallon.

If the General Assembly approves the measure, the tax would take effect this summer and adjusted according to inflation each year, according to Dan Tierney, press secretary for DeWine.

The increased fuel tax would have to be voted on and approved by the approval date of the Ohio Department of Transportation's budget in March.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks appeared before the Ohio House Finance Committee on Feb. 21 to introduce the $7.43 billion transportation budget that will fund operations at ODOT for the next two years.

This includes the proposed 18 cent increase.

How much?

The revenue raised in the first year is about $1.2 billion and will be split between ODOT and local governments, including Lorain County, according to ODOT officials.

ODOT would receive 60 percent of that funding and local governments would get about 40 percent, which can only be used for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of public highways and bridges.

In fiscal year 2020, ODOT would receive $750 million in revenue to pave roads, fix guardrails, fill potholes, clear snow and ice, maintain bridges and improve safety, according to a news release.

It also will provide local governments with a significant increase in the funding, including $1.6 million for every county in the state.

Lorain County

Lorain County Engineer Ken Carney said funds provided to the state and through local government will benefit all since the price for equipment and supplies have increased.

According to a map provided by ODOT, Lorain County has a few highways projected to have poor pavement within the next few years.

Carney shared examples of what the new tax increase would assist in maintenance or construction.

The information is from data collected on maintenance and construction from the previous tax increase in 2006 and compared it to 2018.

Since 2006, costs have gone up for supplies and equipment, while the hourly pay for a highway worker has increased, data shows.

For example, a hot mix asphalt was installed at $105 per cubic yard in 2006 during the last increase.

In 2018, covering a cubic yard now costs $138, and represents a 24 percent increase, the information said.

Another example is the salt delivered to a highway facility was previously $32.83 per ton.

Currently, it's $71.64 per ton and represents a 118.2 percent increase.

Lastly, the base hourly wage for a highway worker ll was $15.55 an hour.

Currently, the hourly pay is $17.89 an hour, which represents a 15 percent increase.

Tierney said DeWine put a task force together to carefully look at the state's funding and eventually decided the tax increase was the state's best option rather than borrowing funds.

Due to significant borrowing throughout the previous administrations, before ODOT spends any motor fuel tax money for its intended maintenance purposes, they have to first take $390 million to pay debt service, he said.

Additionally, raising the tax will help fill the void as Ohio's motor fuel tax revenues have remained relatively flat over the last 15 years because fuel consumption has increased an average of only one-third of one percent a year, Tierney said.

The use of electric-only vehicles also have had an increased prevalence, he said.

According to ODOT's Budget facts, due to flat revenues, highway construction inflation and large debt payments, ODOT is facing a future where they cannot maintain the quality of the state highway system Ohio has, let alone improve upon it.

Without a change in the revenue available to ODOT to do its job, more roads and bridges will slip into a crumbling and potentially dangerous state, the website said.

Maintenance and construction

Matt Bruning, press secretary of ODOT's Central Office, said this tax increase will help all counties with maintenance and construction.

However, this will lead to a delay in planned work over the summer, but may help ODOT balance its budget in the short-term, making a better and faster return, according to ODOT's website.

Curt Steiner, a spokesman for FOR Ohio, has said Ohio faces an emerging financial crisis and DeWine is attacking the problem head on.

“ODOT’s biennial budget proposal as outlined by Director Jack Marchbanks, provides significant new revenue to fund a robust construction budget to maintain Ohio’s state and local roadways and to make needed improvements to provide safe transportation and to keep our economy moving," Steiner said. “The new revenue not only prevents a scheduled halt this summer in jobs-producing new projects, but it provides sufficient levels of funding to move Ohio forward for years to come."

Steiner said FOR Ohio urges all legislators to listen to the facts and adopt legislation that assures Ohio has a safe and modern transportation system to meet the economic and day-to-day needs of the state and its people.

 

Warren Tribune Chronicle

February 23, 2019

DeWine talks gas tax hike

Valley leaders ask for governor’s help on river corridor

http://www.tribtoday.com/news/local-news/2019/02/dewine-talks-gas-tax-hike/

Renee Fox, Reporter

WARREN — While meeting with dozens of elected and appointed Mahoning Valley officials Friday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said if a gas tax increase isn’t approved, the Ohio Department of Transportation would have no cash to fund new projects.

“Without this, there will be no new projects at all,” DeWine said.

ODOT has a $1 billion shortfall and the tax hasn’t increased since 2005, DeWine said.

The issue is just surfacing because the state was borrowing money to make up for it, DeWine said.

Although the number of miles being driven in Ohio is on the rise, revenue is flat because vehicles get better gas mileage, DeWine said.

Increasing the tax from 28 cents to 46 cents will cost an average driver between $130 to $183 per year, according to an analysis by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

But the $1.2 billion the increase is predicted to bring in won’t just go to ODOT — 40 percent will be distributed to local governments.

And without it, even regular maintenance would suffer, DeWine said.

“Regular maintenance, frankly, will go down,” DeWine said.

Ohio Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, said the tax is regressive — a flat tax that hits lower-income people harder because it consumes a larger percentage of their income than people who have more cash.

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted met with local elected officials, including numerous mayors, the county commissioners in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, the heads of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, the Western Reserve Port Authority, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and elected state representatives and senators, in order to hear for which issues they want the state’s help.

Jim Kinnick, director of Eastgate, said the state could help with developing the Mahoning River corridor into something that increase the quality of life in the area. Work is underway to remove the dams along the river, which passes through 26 communities in the Valley, Kinnick said.

The state could help by designating the area a state park.

DeWine said he can’t make any promises about creating a state park, but one of his first calls after the meeting would be to the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to discuss the project.

Kinnick said the dams could be completely removed in two years and a state park would drive economic development around the river, while creating vibrant communities where younger people want to live.

James Dignan, director of the regional chamber, said the corridor represents what the area is trying to become.

DeWine said he is still building a relationship with General Motors, but there is no news on any positive developments. GM is ending production of the Chevrolet Cruze and idling the Lordstown plant March 8.

If GM doesn’t choose to make a product, DeWine said he will do what he can to attract a different business to the large plant.

Girard Mayor James Melfi told DeWine and Husted the area needs more jobs for “common”people so they can earn enough for a good life and contribute to society.

The administration is looking at the state’s job programs and working on improving it, Husted said.

Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said the area could use help revitalizing business districts.

DeWine said he also is interested in finding a way for the state to assist more with eliminating commercial blight.MENTS

 

Ohio Public Radio

February 24, 2019

Ohioans Express Concern Over Gas Tax Hike

https://www.wksu.org/post/ohioans-express-concern-over-gas-tax-hike#stream/0

By ANDY CHOW

Gov. Mike DeWine says raising the gas tax from 28 cents a gallon to 46 cents a gallon will help fill a $1 billion construction budget shortfall. But the proposal has led to a debate over how it will impact Ohioans.

Why groups are concerned about the tax increase.

Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning groups are concerned a gas tax will disproportionately hurt poor people. That includes Policy Matters Ohio’s Victoria Jackson.

“Gas taxes are regressive meaning lower income people and middle income people pay a greater share of their income on the tax than do higher income people and we think to address that gas tax money should be set aside to invest in public transit, to help low income people, people with disabilities and elderly people have affordable, accessible transportation options,” Jackson said.

House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes is also concerned about the consequences a higher gas tax would have on the working class, families, and seniors.

The Ohio Municipal League supports the proposal, saying it will help spur connections to employment, commerce, and social services.

New Philadelphia Times Reporter

February 23, 2019

Gas tax increase would bring about $1 million to Tuscarawas County

https://www.timesreporter.com/news/20190223/gas-tax-increase-would-bring-about-1-million-to-tuscarawas-county

By  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
TimesReporter.com staff writer 
If Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposal to raise the gasoline tax by 18 cents a gallon were enacted, the Tuscarawas County Engineer’s Office would see about $1 million a year in additional revenue.

County Engineer Joe Bachman said he wasn’t sure how much higher the gas tax will go, but he added, “Anything we get is more than we have now.”

The governor wants the increase to maintain and upgrade Ohio’s roads and bridges. His request would represent a 64 percent or $1.2 billion increase in the 28-cent-per-gallon gas tax.

An Ohio motorist with a vehicle that averages 30 miles per gallon and who drives 15,000 miles annually would pay an extra $90 a year if lawmakers approve DeWine’s request.

The county engineer’s office receives between $2.3 million and $2.4 million a year from the 28-cent tax, Bachman said.

If the increase is approved, he would use the additional money to restart a bridge maintenance program, which he said is important in the long term.

“There are a couple of bridges that are load limited, but there is nothing pressing that needs to be repaired,” he said. “It’s an issue that we let slide, but it’s mortgaging the future. If we keep the program shut down for five to 10 years, there would be bridges that would be pressing.”

Having an adequate infrastructure and state roadways is important for future economic development and job creation, said state Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark.

“I believe it is abundantly clear we need more resources put to work in Ohio in improving our infrastructure and road conditions,” he said. “The gap between existing available revenue and the needs of adequately maintaining our roadways is real.

“The Ohio Senate and the Transportation committee of which I sit on are in the early stages of determining what the revenue needs and road needs are and exactly how big of a gap exists. I am looking at a number of options, but in all probability it will require finding additional revenue to meet the needs of Ohio’s vast highway and roadway system for the demands of the 21st century. I suspect over the next few weeks it will be determined to what extent the needs are and the best options of meeting those.”

State Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, said an increase of 18 cents a gallon was more than he was hoping to see.

“I have a real hard time with that number,” he said. “It is more than I anticipated. It’s going to be a tough decision to make. I don’t want to raise taxes, but the sad reality is this didn’t happen overnight. It’s been coming for several years. I think the can was kicked down the road.”

He said the state had borrowed money from turnpike bonds to fund state highway needs, but that source is no longer available.

“The can’s been kicked down the road and now we have to pick it up,” Jones said.

State Rep. Brett Hillyer, R-Uhrichsville, said the state will have to look at every avenue of funding available for maintenance of highways.

 

Cleveland Plain Dealer

February 23, 2019

Poll: Should Ohio increase its gas tax 18 cents a gallon as proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine?

https://www.cleveland.com/datacentral/2019/02/poll-should-ohio-increase-its-gas-tax-18-cents-a-gallon-as-proposed-by-gov-mike-dewine.html

By Rich Exner, cleveland.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. Mike DeWine says Ohio needs to increase its gasoline tax by 18 cents a gallon to raise money to repair Ohio’s crumbling roads and meet some new construction needs.

Ohio last increased its gasoline tax in 2005, to 28 cents a gallon. Tax collections have been essentially flat since then, largely because of more fuel efficient cars and in some cases cars that use no gasoline at all.

An increase of 18 cents a gallon would amount to $86 a year for a driver of a car traveling 12,000 miles at 25 miles per gallon.

Share your thoughts by voting in this poll. Below the poll are links to some background material, including what other states are exploring to move away from a per-gallon tax. One top idea is charging people by the miles they drive, instead of the fuel they use.

Hannah Capitol Connection

February 22, 2019

ODOT Releases Spreadsheets on Municipal Distribution of Gas Tax Revenue
 http://www.hannah.com/DesktopDefaultPublic.aspx?type=hns&id=57pdJ2rsxj8%3d&u=7PpkYjErP%2fs%3d

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Friday released searchable spreadsheets offering detailed numbers on what each Ohio county and municipality would receive through revenue generated by the proposed 18 cent increase in the motor vehicle fuel tax discussed by ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks in House Finance Committee testimony Thursday. (See The Hannah Report, 2/21/19.)

Around 40 percent of the funding would be allocated to local governments, with each county receiving $4.2 million in state fiscal year (SFY) 2020, $4.3 million in SFY21 and SFY22, $4.4 million in SFY23 and $4.5 million in SFY24. State law requires equal allocation to counties, which would currently receive $2.4 million in SFY20. The proposed increase would give each county engineer's office an additional $1.7 million.

Allocation to municipalities would be based on the numbers of motor vehicles registered in each one, while township fund distribution would be based on both the number of center-line roadway miles and vehicle registrations.

Currently, the cities receiving the most funds in SFY20 are Columbus ($26 million), Cleveland ($9.3 million), Cincinnati and Toledo (both $8.1 million), Akron ($5.3 million), Dayton ($3.9 million), Parma ($2.6 million) and Canton ($2.2 million), and those amounts would all nearly double under the proposed increase. Under a constitutional resolution, these funds can only be used for construction, maintenance and repair of public highways and bridges.

ODOT released two spreadsheets on the data, including one that lists municipalities alphabetically within their respective counties available at https://tinyurl.com/y3zua43t, and one listing all of the state’s municipalities alphabetically available at https://tinyurl.com/y363lvkd.

ODOT also has further information about the proposed transportation and public safety budget, which is currently awaiting acceptance as a substitute version of HB62 (Oelslager), at https://beta.transportation.ohio.gov/budget.

Gongwer News Service

February 22, 2019

Some In House GOP Not Fully Sold On Size Of Gas Tax Increase; Local Impacts Detailed

While organizations are largely on board with Gov. Mike DeWine's proposed increase in the motor vehicle fuel tax by 18-cents-per-gallon, some House Republicans are less committal.

Rep. Doug Green (R-Mt. Orab), who leads the House Transportation & Public Safety Committee, said he in general supports an increase in the gas tax.

"I foresee a gas tax increase," he said in an interview. "At what level, at this point I'm not sure."

Rep. Green said the two-year transportation budget (HB 62) should also address alternative fuel vehicles that add to the wear and tear of Ohio's roadways but do not contribute to their maintenance.

"I think it's better now than later because of the small market share," he said.

Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks said a $250 fee for electric vehicles and a $75 fee for hybrids was explored, but that would generate just $2.5 million annually. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, February 5, 2019)

Members of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure also expressed concerns that excessive fees could discourage the purchase of such vehicles. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, February 6, 2019)

Nonetheless, Rep. Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), the vice chairman of the House Finance Committee, also believe that it makes sense to try to capture revenue from electric and compressed natural gas vehicles.

As for the proposed gas tax increase, Rep. Scherer said in an interview: "Something is definitely needed."

"I am willing to have some increase," he added. "I don't know what the right number is yet."

Rep. Scherer also questioned whether any increase should be phased in over time and if the rate should be tied to inflation, as the governor has proposed.

In terms of where his colleagues stand, Rep. Scherer believes there is consensus that the gas tax needs to be increased to some degree.

"I haven't heard of anyone who says that no increase is needed and that it could all be done just by cost savings," he said.

Rep. Green said there has not been a discussion among the caucus about the proposal. But he also believes the majority will support an increase.

"This is one of those things that we're all trying our best to wish there was another option," he said.

At least one lawmaker is looking for another option. Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) took to Twitter to say an increase in the gas tax is the least preferable method to address financial needs for transportation infrastructure.

"My constituents need to rest assured that all other options will be fully vetted before we ever ask Ohioans for any additional revenue," she wrote.

Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake), who leads the Finance Subcommittee on Transportation, said in an interview that members of both parties are not keen on the idea of raising taxes on Ohioans, but channeling Gov. DeWine, he said the state is facing a reckoning when it comes to financing transportation infrastructure improvements and maintenance.

"It may rest at 18," he said of the governor's proposal. "It may be less. It may be more."

The budget request would also use federal dollars to boost funding for public transit from $33 million per year to $40 million annually. Rep. Greenspan plans to advocate for additional funding.

"The need in that area is greater than that as well," he said.

Several stakeholder organizations, meanwhile, continued to express support for the governor's plan. In statements, local government groups and others have praised the proposed increase that would bring $1.2 billion into the state's coffers for road and bridge projects. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, February 21, 2019)

The Ohio Township Association noted that the proposal will allow the state to continue to pass along $350 million annually to local governments for transportation needs.

"In Ohio, townships are responsible for maintaining over 41,000 miles of roads," Executive Director Matthew DeTemple said. "Among other things, the price of asphalt has risen over the years, and for some time it has not been feasible to perform basic repairs on local roads. It certainly has not been realistic to initiate new projects to further serve residents. The OTA supports Governor DeWine's proposed transportation budget, and we look forward to continuing the discussion of ways to fund our state's vitally important transportation infrastructure."

The proposal would also allow the state to distribute an additional $1.6 million to each of Ohio's 88 counties. Mr. Marchbanks said that is enough to cover four bridge projects annually.

County Commissioners Association of Ohio President Julie Ehemann praised the governor for his "strong leadership."

"This proposal will help counties address critical needs in our transportation system, including over 1,800 bridges that are eligible for immediate replacement and another 6,000 that are eligible for repair," she said.

The Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association also praised the governor, calling him "a strong leader and advocate for safe and efficient roadways and bridges."

"Ohio is woefully behind our neighboring states when it comes to funding and the governor's forward-thinking proposal ensures that Ohio's transportation system is safe, reliable and efficient," Executive Director Patrick Jacomet added. "We look forward to working with the Ohio General Assembly and stress that indexing continues to be included as part of this solution to ensure that future funding needs are met."

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Ohio said the proposal will keep Ohio economically competitive.

"We feel that the efficiency and condition of Ohio's transportation system is critical to the health of the state's economy," President Beth Easterday said.

Local Distribution: ODOT on Friday released detailed numbers on how much each municipality in the state would benefit from the budget proposal. (Sorted by county) (Sorted by municipality)

"Ohio's cities, villages, counties, and townships would receive about 40 percent of the funding," the department said in a release. "The amount municipalities receive is based on the number of motor vehicles registered in each municipality. Townships see their funds distributed based on both the number of center-line roadway miles and vehicle registrations."

 

Knox Pages

February 22, 2019

Proposed gas tax increase could nearly double local road repair funds

All 88 counties would get an extra $1.6 million to fix local roads and bridges

http://www.knoxpages.com/news/proposed-gas-tax-increase-could-nearly-double-local-road-repair/article_67977bbe-36b4-11e9-ab2e-fbb38ae4d628.html

Grant Pepper, Staff Reporter

KNOX COUNTY – While Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed 18-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase may seem painful at the pump, local engineers say the hike is essential for the maintenance of local roads.

DeWine, just one month into his governorship, submitted his transportation budget to the House Finance Committee on Thursday, which included the increase. Per the state constitution, gas tax money is earmarked for road repairs and upgrades – both at the state and local levels.

Ohio’s current gas tax is 28 cents per gallon, so this additional 18-cent charge would increase the tax by 64 percent. It would add $1.2 billion to state coffers, the Ohio Department of Transportation said in a press release.

Ohio has not increased its gas tax since 2005, and its 28-cent rate ranks 29th in the nation. According to the Columbus Dispatch, every neighboring state has increased its gas tax since 2014.

DeWine views the increase as vital to the future of statewide transportation. If lawmakers approve his request, it will go into effect July 1, with no phase-in. DeWine has requested that the tax rise with inflation after 2020.

“Governor DeWine understands that maintaining the integrity of our roads and bridges is not only important to our economy; it is important to the health and welfare of our citizens,” ODOT stated.

ODOT estimates that someone driving 13,000 miles per year in a 2015 Ford F-150 pickup with a V8 engine would pay an extra $2.65 per week – $138 per year – under the new tax. Under the same mileage, it would cost the driver of a 2015 Jeep Cherokee an estimated $1.91 per week ($99 per year) and it would cost $1.61 per week ($84 per year) for the driver of a 2015 Honda Accord.

Of the $1.2 billion gained in 2020 through the proposed tax hike, $750 million would go to the state’s highway and bridge network, while $428 million would go to local governments for street repairs.

All 88 Ohio counties would receive approximately $1.6 million from the proposed gas tax in 2020. According to an Ohio Department of Transportation analysis, Mount Vernon’s annual gas tax revenue would jump from $544,801 to $940,979 next year. By 2024, with inflation factored in, the city’s yearly revenue could surpass the $1 million mark.

Each county, city, village and township would see the same 64 percent increase if the proposal passes. For example, Pike Township’s annual tax earnings would go from $90,475 to $151,989. Fredericktown would see a $72,000 increase in 2020 if the proposal passes, while Centerburg would see a $43,000 bump. Danville would see a $26,000 increase and Gambier would experience a $14,000 raise.

“Obviously, it’s going to be a great thing for us,” Knox County Engineer Cameron Keaton said. “For the county… we’re estimating the revenue to be somewhere (around) $1.6 million. And that, in essence, will not quite double what we spend on road and bridge maintenance at this point in time, but it’ll come pretty close.”

Brian Ball, engineer for the City of Mount Vernon, expressed similar support for the increase.

“We’re seeing potholes everywhere. We’re seeing the price of salt go up, the price of asphalt go up. Everything we’re doing costs more,” Ball said. “And so every once in a while, we do need to have the sort of corrections to keep up with costs and keep up with inflation. So it’s a pretty reasonable step up and that would definitely help our operations.”

Ball said the city typically spends $400,000 per year on pavement repairs, but “ideally, we’d be putting down about $600,000-$800,000.” With the cost of paving on the rise and winters like this one – where volatile weather patterns have wreaked havoc on asphalt roads, which contract and expand with the temperature (and are impacted by the repeated freezing and thawing of ice) – Ball said the city is “struggling to keep up.”

If DeWine’s proposal passes, Ball said the additional tax money the city receives will only be used on local roads; it could not be used on private properties or by other city departments. It would funnel directly into the city’s roads and bridges fund, which was established to finance city projects and street department needs, such as equipment, materials and labor.

ODOT will use its own share of the additional tax revenue to make improvements to state routes, Ball said, some of which run through Knox County. The state pays for 80 percent of state route repairs, while local governments foot the other 20 percent. This makes the benefit of such an increase two-fold, Ball noted.

“I think it’s important for our constituents and our user public to understand that, you know, ODOT is helping is build things here in Mount Vernon actively, and ODOT’s also creating larger infrastructure for us in the bigger cities,” Ball said.

“So ODOT’s money isn’t just being spent in Columbus and Cleveland and Cincinnati, it’s being spent here in Knox County, too.”

Ball believes an 18-cent increase now will serve better than a 25 or 50-cent increase down the road, when things are even more urgent.

“We are on-board with this increase,” Ball said. “We realize that it’s a significant burden to the user public, but people want to have nice roads to drive on. They don’t want their cars damaged by potholes. You know, there is some trade-off there, some sacrifice.”

DeWine proposed the increase, in large part, because the state is experiencing similar economic struggles when it comes to road repair.

According to the Dispatch, ODOT director Jack Marchbanks told lawmakers during Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting that “due to flat revenues, highway construction inflation, and mounting debt payments, ODOT is in jeopardy of being unable to fulfill its mission.”

The state has borrowed against future tax revenues and used Turnpike toll fees to patch financial holes in recent years, but at this point, ODOT said, the issue has become too big to ignore.

“Without a change in our available revenue, there will not be enough money for ODOT and our local partners to keep the roadways in their current condition, and roads will deteriorate,” the department said in its press release. “Statistically, we know that deteriorating road conditions lead to more crashes and that more crashes lead to more fatalities.”

ODOT has cut nearly 700 positions since 2011, the department said, which has saved it $330 million. The department has cut operational costs several other ways over the last decade to try to combat the lack of funding.

House Finance Committee members were conflicted on the tax proposal during Thursday’s meeting, the Dispatch reported. Those who advocated for the hike noted the immediate impact it would have on state and local roadways; those who opposed it said it would cause too much of a financial burden on taxpayers, and its susceptibility to inflation would only allow it to increase over time.

Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township), who represents Ohio’s 68th district (which includes Knox County), sits on the House Finance Committee. While he was not available for comment on Thursday, Ball said he and Keaton had met with Carfagna recently to voice their concerns about the state of local roadways.

Ball believes Carfagna understands the need for local infrastructure funding, and he’s exhibited such concerns in the past by working with JobsOhio to help get Mount Vernon’s Parrott St. project rolling.

“I think he has a deep understanding of the needs that we have here for roads and bridge infrastructure, and he is a good advocate for the city and the county,” Ball said. “I think he has a good understanding of what we’re dealing with.”

 

Ohio Chamber of Commerce

February 22, 2019

Governor’s Solution to $1 B Transportation Budget Shortfall Includes Gas Tax Hike

By Keith Lake

Yesterday, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks appeared before the House Finance Committee to rollout the DeWine Administration’s two-year transportation budget proposal. As expected, the proposal contains an increase in the state’s Motor Fuel Use Tax, better known as the gas tax.

As we blogged about previously, without additional revenue, the state will be forced to start delaying the performance of regular road and bridge maintenance and have no money available for improvements or new projects. The shortfall is approximately $1 billion annually.

To fill this gap, Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed an immediate – effective July 1, 2019 – gas tax increase of $0.18 per gallon. This would push the Ohio gas tax rate from $0.28 per gallon to $0.46 per gallon, putting Ohio’s tax in line with most of our neighboring states. The governor also proposes to index the rate to the Consumer Price Index, meaning it would likely increase automatically every subsequent July 1. The governor’s proposal does not include the establishment of a new fee on alternative fuel and electric vehicles that also utilize Ohio’s transportation infrastructure but whose owners do not pay the gas tax.

The additional revenue this $0.18 increase would generate equates to about $1.2 billion annually and will be split – as current proceeds are – between ODOT and local governments, with ODOT receiving roughly 60% and local governments the remaining 40%. That means ODOT would get about $750 million additional dollars per year.

The full transportation budget proposal will now be considered by the Ohio legislature, beginning in the House. Lawmakers have until March 31 to pass a final transportation budget.

The Ohio Chamber knows that investment in transportation infrastructure supports a vibrant and dynamic economic environment and ensures that Ohio businesses can move and access the goods and resources they need. That’s why, as part of our 2019-2020 Public Policy Priorities released just this week, we include support for efforts to ensure adequate and reliable funding for Ohio’s transportation system. This would include a reasonable increase in the gas tax.

Our Taxation and Public Expenditures Committee will be meeting on Wednesday to review and discuss Gov. DeWine’s transportation budget proposal. If you’re not already on the committee and would like to be part of this discussion, please let us know.

 

 

Press Releases & Statements

 

Ohio Department of Transportation

February 22, 2019

ODOT releases local impact

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Department of Transportation today released searchable spreadsheets that give detailed numbers on what each Ohio county and municipality would receive based upon the proposed increase in the motor vehicle user fee called for in the department’s proposed 2020-21 budget.

Ohio's cities, villages, counties, and townships would receive about 40 percent of the funding.

The amount municipalities receive is based on the number of motor vehicles registered in each municipality. Townships see their funds distributed based on both the number of center-line roadway miles and vehicle registrations.

State law also divides revenue equally among the state's 88 counties. The proposed increase would give each county engineer's office an additional $1.772 million.

Per a constitutional restriction, this money can only be used for purposes related to the construction, reconstruction, maintenance, and repair of public highways and bridges.

Click here for a spreadsheet sorted by county.
Click here for a spreadsheet sorted by municipality.
Click here for more information on ODOT's budget.