Ohio Senate Breaks Even Further from Governor DeWine, Lowering Gas Tax to Six Cents

The Republican-held Ohio Senate joined Republicans in the House of Representatives in opposing Gov. Mike DeWine on his proposed gas-tax hike.

House Bill 62 (HB 62), the 2020-21 Ohio transportation budget, first proposed by DeWine on Feb. 12, originally called for an 18 cent increase to the current gas tax. This was the first major bill proposal of his term. He called the measure “a minimalist, conservative approach, with this being the absolute bare minimum we need to protect our families and our economy.”

In his State of the State address, as well as in other forums, he maintained that this was the absolute lowest the tax could be and would have to go into effect immediately.

After being referred to the House, the Republican-held legislature broke significantly from the governor, lowering the rate to 10.7 cents and ordered it to be phased in over three years.

“If they pass the House bill, we’re going to end up with the worst of all worlds,” DeWine said in response. He was insistent that the 18 cent number was the only acceptable rate.

While DeWine seemed hopeful he could convince the legislature to return to his 18 cent number, the Ohio Senate seems to be making it clear that 18 cents will not be a realistic target for the Buckeye state. The Senate’s amended bill, passed Thursday, slashes the tax hike down to six cents. Immediately following the decision, DeWine stated:

I’m not going to today get into the minutiae of where the Senate may be or where the House is. Look, this is going to play out, I’m going to take a little break here for a few hours and not specifically comment on what they’re doing.

On Friday, at a news conference at the Ohio Department of Transportation, DeWine appeared with a group of highway patrolmen to advocate for the importance of road maintenance. In regards to the Senate’s decision, he stated:

Yeah, we could have come in at 30 cents. We could have come in at a lot of numbers. But it seems to me that the next time I go to the General Assembly they might say, ‘Hey, are you going to high-ball us again?’ That’s just not how I do business. And look, the General Assembly’s just getting used to me. They’ll get that I’m a person who will tell it like it is. I won’t be shy about it, but I’m not exaggerating either.

DeWine continues to maintain that 18 cents is the absolute lowest the tax hike can be, meaning if it passes any lower, his party will be in a very precarious position. With elections looming in 2020, Democratic challengers will be able to quote the Republican governor criticizing his own party for putting lives in danger. However, should the legislature acquiesce to the governor, the first act of the almost entirely Republican-controlled state government will be the passage of a significant tax hike. Neither option is appealing but a decision will have to be made soon.

The legislature and the governor only have another week to finalize their budget. Should they fail to do so before March 31, the tax raise cannot go into effect until next year.

– – –

Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio StarSend tips to [email protected].
Photo “Gas Pump” by Upupa4me. CC BY-SA 2.0.










Related posts