Archbold, OH
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State Gas Tax Amount Undecided

The future of an increase in the Ohio motor fuel tax, commonly called the gas tax, was still up in the air on Monday.

Mike DeWine, Ohio governor, initially proposed an increase of 18 cents per gallon in the tax on gasoline in February, after an advisory committee reported there was a $1.5 billion structural deficit in the Ohio Department of Transportation budget.

Daniel Tierney, spokesman for the governor, said ODOT can eliminate about $300 million “through making internal cuts, not filling positions– you know, the general good-government, pennypinching type of stuff that taxpayers expect their state agencies to do when they face these shortfalls.”

The remainder, about $1.2 billion, would come from an increase in the motor fuel tax.

House, Senate

But Ohio legislators seemed to be saying “not so fast.”

Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township), state representative who represents part of Fulton County, including Archbold, said the House passed its version of a state transportation bill, which included phased-in increases in taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.

For gasoline, House legislation imposed an increase of 7 cents/gallon starting Oct. 1, 2019, followed by another 3.7 cents starting Oct. 2, 2020, for a total of 10.7 cents/gallon over two years.

The diesel fuel tax would go up 10 cents/gallon starting Oct. 1, 2019, an additional 6 cents starting Oct. 2, 2020, and then 4 cents, Oct. 1, 2021, for 20 cents/gallon over three years.

However, Merrin voted against the bill.

“I don’t support increasing the overall tax burden on Ohioans,” he said.

“I would prefer that extra funding for roads be done through the general fund, where there’s a surplus right now.”

The Ohio Senate passed a version of the bill on Thursday, March 21, that would increase the motor fuel tax 6 cents/gallon on gasoline and diesel fuel alike.

The two transportation bills are currently in a conference committee, where House and Senate members negotiate the differences between the two to come up with one bill to send to the governor for his signature.

Not Commenting

If the final motor fuel tax increase isn’t to DeWine’s liking, what can he do?

He could veto the bill and send legislators back to either work on a new proposal or override his veto.

Tierney said DeWine “has not commented on those scenarios.

“He remains optimistic that through the conference committee process, an improved bill will come out,” Tierney said.

Tierney said DeWine’s proposed 18-cent increase in the motor fuel tax was a “longterm plan, not just to take care of the issue for a couple of years, but to try and make sure the funding side is taken care of for many years.

“That way, we can make wise investments in maintenance, wise investments in safety improvements, and wise investments in a moderate amount of new construction to improve the infrastructure, make it safer, and to help economic development.”

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