Ohio lawmakers debate long-term effects of proposed gas tax increase

COLUMBUS -- Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's administration is looking to increase Ohio's gas tax by a minimum of 18 cents a gallon effective July 1, making the state's tax the fifth highest in the country. However, officials say it could mean more over the long-term.

ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks testified before the House Finance Committee Thursday saying that without a significant increase in funding the transportation department will not be able to repair roads or improve existing ones.

They're asking to increase the tax from 28 cents to 46 cents a gallon, but that could actually be higher over time as the administration is proposing that the gas tax rate be tied to the inflation rate.

"With that indexing moving forward, ODOT and its local transportation partners will have what they need to keep roadways safe for Ohio drivers and to keep our economy moving. The indexing is crucial to ensure that we're not here again in four to six years, talking about deteriorating road conditions and safety hazards," Marchbanks told members of the committee.

In the first year, Marchbanks said the gas tax increase would raise an additional $1.2 billion, which would be split 60 - 40 between the state and Ohio's 88 counties.

"The proposal will also provide local governments with an increase in funding. All 88 counties, the county engineers will get an extra $1.6 billion over current funding levels to keep their drivers safe on the system. Cities, villages and townships will also see a significant increase under this proposal," Marchbanks said.

Some members of the House Finance Committee questioned the need for the increase, citing the impact on low income families.

While others said they want a short-term fix until they can come up with other revenue streams.

So far there's no indication how or when lawmakers will move this forward.

However, Marchbanks cautions that without more revenue this year, the state will have a hard time maintaining roads or initiating much needed projects to improve the state's highways.

Continuing coverage, here.

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