Ohio House Speaker: 10-to-12-cent gas tax hike needed, not 18

Christmas Day gas prices have hit a three-year low in Charleston, according to Gas Buddy....
Christmas Day gas prices have hit a three-year low in Charleston, according to Gas Buddy. (Source: Live 5)(Live 5)
Updated: Mar. 4, 2019 at 8:15 AM EST
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FAIRFIELD, OH (FOX19) - A committee of state lawmakers think an increase of 10 or 12 cents is needed to Ohio’s gas tax, not the 18-cent hike Gov. Mike DeWine is proposing, House Speaker Larry Householder said.

The issue will come up in the statehouse this week, Householder told FOX19 NOW in an interview Saturday just before he delivered the keynote speech at Butler County’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Fairfield.

State lawmakers must pass the proposed tax and decide how much. The transportation bill is due to be signed into law by month’s end.

DeWine unveiled the proposed increase last month. It would push the tax to 46 cents per gallon, raising about $1.2 billion a year.

It’s part of his $7.4 billion transportation budget to repair Ohio’s roads and bridges and fill a $1 billion state shortfall.

“We are facing a very real, impending crisis,” Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks, said in testimony last month before the House Finance Committee in Columbus.

People will get hurt’ without more money to fix roads : ODOT director

The increase would be the first one to the tax in 13 years, and take effect in July, increasing with inflation annually starting in July 2020, state officials have said.

Householder, R-Glenford, acknowledged DeWine is in a “difficult position” to pay for repairs needed with flat state revenues for the last 12 years while materials increased 3.5 percent to 5 percent annually during that same time.

“We’re in a position where there’s a delta and it grows even more when you look out the next 10 years. The reason that revenues are flat is because the 28 cent gas tax we have in Ohio right now is on the gallon. It’s not a percentage or anything like that, of the cost at the pump. It’s just a flat 28 cents per gallon and so that never changes. We are driving more and using less gasoline because our cars are much more fuel-efficient.

“So the situation that we’re in right now, Gov. DeWine has proposed an 18-cent increase on the gas tax and, in the House committee, we’ve knuckled down, looked through it, really worked on it. We think that that’s probably high. We believe the number is more around 10 cents to 12 cents as far as an increase that’s needed and we think that probably needs to be phased in over a period of three years.”

House Speaker Larry Householder is the keynote speaker tonight at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner. He was kind enough to sit down with me for an interview.

Posted by Jennifer Edwards Baker on Saturday, March 2, 2019

If the 18-percent tax increase passes, Ohio’s would be second-highest gas tax of our neighboring states, only second to Pennsylvania’s 58.7 cents, according to an analysis by our news partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

But now, we are among the lowest, only second to Kentucky’s 26 cents per gallon.

Michigan’s is 44.1 cents, Indiana’s is 42.9 cents and the tax is 35.7 cents in West Virginia, according to the Enquirer.

Here’s reaction to the proposed tax hike from local state representatives:

State Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout:

“No way, no how on 18 cents. But I could be open to a lower amount with an emphasis on new projects."

State Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township:

“An increase is needed because construction costs have increased by about 60 percent since the last increase in 2005, while revenues are stagnating due to better mileage and alternative fuel vehicles. I doubt that we will do an immediate 18 cents though.”

State Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton

“My constituents need to rest assured that all other options will be fully vetted before we ever ask Ohioians for any additional revenue. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and look into all options prior to looking toward any proposed increase. I want to assure Ohio’s current infrastructure is maintained first and foremost. I want to first verify that current tax dollars are being used efficiently and effectively prior to any discussion on future needs.”

State Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Township

“This is our core competency, roads and bridges. We have to fund them adequately to be attractive to the business community, so they will locate here. But I agree with the Speaker Householder, 18 cents is on the high side. I am not necessarily for the indexing. I think it’s good for us to to have to vote for tax increases, not just put them out there. I am also working on a reduction in the corporate tax. Whatever tax we increase here, I want to see a similar reduction in the corporate taxes to make us more attractive to the business base.”

Gas prices on the rise due to high oil prices

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