Let the gas tax increase debate begin — or continue.
The Ohio Senate on Thursday evening passed a two-year transportation budget with a 6-cents-a-gallon fuel tax increase, beginning July 1.
Gov. Mike DeWine had proposed an increase of 18 cents per gallon. The Ohio House version of the budget would hike the gas tax by 10.7 cents and the diesel fuel tax by 20 cents.
The two versions must be reconciled by the two chambers and sent to DeWine by March 31.
Ohio’s gas tax is currently 28 cents a gallon.
In addition to funding basic operations and maintenance, the Senate-passed version of the bill includes $200 million for major new projects, $267 million for safety projects, and increases public transit funding to $110 million over the biennium. The bill received a bipartisan vote, with a majority of both Republicans and Democrats supporting the proposal.
“This bill makes important investments in our infrastructure,” said Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina).
“I am proud that the budget received a strong, bipartisan vote. We believe the bill will fund Ohio’s needs and provide wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” said Obhof, whose district includes Richland and Ashland counties.
The Senate plan allows the Ohio Department of Transportation to continue maintaining and improving Ohio’s roads and bridges. In addition to funding Ohio’s infrastructure, the bill adds new accountability and transparency measures on how taxpayer dollars are spent.
The Senate’s version of the bill increases Ohio’s earned income tax credit from 10 to 30 percent, providing significant tax relief to low-income Ohioans. The bill also requires the Auditor of State to complete a performance audit of the Ohio Department of Transportation by Jan. 1, 2020 in an effort to ensure operational efficiency and taxpayer accountability.
“I’d like to thank the members of the Senate’s transportation committee and our staff for their hard work on a complex issue, as well as the Ohioans who shared their feedback and ideas during the deliberation of this important bill,” Obhof said.