By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
Ohio lawmakers April 2 reached a bipartisan deal to generate an additional $865 million annually for transportation infrastructure maintenance and safety work. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) quickly signed the measure.
The legislation increases the state gas tax by 10.5 cents-per-gallon and the diesel tax by 19 cents-per-gallon. It also implements annual registration fees of $200 for electric motor vehicles and $100 for plug-in hybrid motor vehicles. Ohio is the third state to increase its gas tax in 2019, and the 30th since 2013 to increase or adjust the user fee for increased transportation revenue.
“The need was clearly demonstrated through the tremendous amount of testimony of local governments, the state DOT, regional MPOs, business and our Fix Our Roads Ohio Coalition. The need was compelling regardless of party,” said Chris Runyan, president of the Ohio Contractors Association (OCA), an ARTBA chapter.
In February, Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks warned lawmakers that the state faced an “impending transportation crisis” and would be unable to complete highway improvement projects without new revenue. Marchbanks estimated the department’s transportation funding gap at $1 billion.
DeWine originally proposed a $1.2 billion package driven by an 18 cents-per-gallon increase. Runyan said he expects the state to revisit the issue to increase revenue in a few years because this bill doesn’t close the transportation fund shortfall, and he’s pleased the law includes a provision to begin that process. The outcome also underlines the continued importance of federal transportation investment.
DeWine’s early support was a key to the success, Runyan said. As the Fix Our Roads Ohio Coalition grew from a core eight groups to over 70 organizations, its members provided testimony at Ohio House and Senate hearings to bolster public awareness of the issue.
“At the end of the day we got $865 million of additional dollars that are going to transportation in the state of Ohio, and on top of that, another $70 million dedicated to transit through general funds,” Runyan said. “That’s going to have a positive impact one every citizen in the state.”
Runyan is also a member of ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Council™ (TIAC). He will address Ohio’s success at TIAC’s 6th Annual Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates, July 17 in Washington, D.C. Learn more and register.