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.