It’s safe to say that when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine appointed his “Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation” to develop solutions for paying for road and bridge repairs, citizens were hoping they’d come up was some creative answers.
Instead, the committee reached a consensus last week that the primary means by which road repairs would need to be funded would be through raising gas taxes.
During a meeting with the Canton Repository Editorial Board, Governor DeWine made it clear that he would be taking their advice. He noted that not only was raising the gas taxes essential to fixing the problem but that he couldn’t put a number on how high the hike would be. When asked how much the raise could be per gallon, he stated:
Well I’m not going to talk about it yet. I’m not going to put a number on it…Just to maintain status quo, we’ve got to come up with $1.5 billion a year. So how we do that? I’ve been in discussions with the members of the leadership of the legislature of how to do that. Just doing the numbers, significant amount of that has to come from the gas tax.
Many advocates note that there will never be a better time to raise the gas tax. While the entire nation is paying record lows at the pump for gasoline, Ohioans are paying even less. As of last year, the country is paying, on average, $2.36 per gallon. In Ohio, the average is twenty cents less at $2.17 a gallon, 28 cents of which is taxes. While a gas tax is the most straightforward answer, there’s one aspect that still doesn’t have an easy answer.
While hybrid and electric cars still only make up less than one percent of all cars in Ohio, legislators have made it clear that they wish to see this number rise dramatically in the coming years. The issues is, currently, there are no means by which to ensure they are equally responsible for paying this gas tax. In fact, the state offers generous subsidies for owners of these vehicles. When asked how to address this, DeWine underscored his commitment to seeing more hybrid and electric cars while noting, “we have to somewhat account for that,” adding,” … it is a user fee, and everybody who’s a user, we’re going to have to get them to pay.”
The advisory board’s final report is expected before the end of the month.
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