Lawmakers in the Ohio General Assembly yesterday passed a two-year transportation budget that includes a 10.5 cent boost to taxes on gasoline and a 19 cent boost to diesel fuel taxes — a big step down from the 18 cent hike Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine asked for, but more than the 6 cent increase passed through the Ohio Senate last month.
The increase will start July 1, would cost the average Ohio driver with a car that gets 25 miles to the gallon about an extra dollar a week, and will raise about $865 million a year for new transportation projects and efforts toward repairing Ohio's badly-deteriorated roads and bridges. Under the budget, municipalities will get 45 percent of the proceeds of the gas tax — up from the 40 percent they currently get.
Ohio's beleaguered public transit authorities will also see more money in the new budget. Ohio currently provides roughly $33 million a year for public transit — among the lowest levels in the country per capita. Funding will double under the new budget to $70 million a year. That's still less than the $125 million the Central Ohio Transit Authority has said is needed to shore up public transportation in the state.
Another revenue raising mechanism in the new budget: Owners registering new electric vehicles will pay an extra $200, and hybrid registrations will cost an extra $100.
DeWine has argued that Ohio needed every cent of his proposed increase, which would have taken the state's gas tax from 28 cents to 46 cents. Instead, Ohioans will pay 38.5 cents per gallon for the tax — higher than Kentucky's 26 cents and West Virginia's 35.7 cents, but lower than Michigan's 44.1 cents and Indiana's 42.9 cents.
The gas tax increase is Ohio's first since 2005.
The budget also does away with a requirement that drivers have front license plates on their vehicles. That provision has local relevancy: a traffic stop over a missing front license plate is what led to the controversial shooting death of unarmed motorist Sam DuBose by then-University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing in 2015.
The budget next goes to DeWine for his signature. He could opt to line-item veto some provisions.