COLUMBUS, Ohio – After more than an hour and a half delay waiting for the substitute bill to be prepared, House Finance Chairman Scott Oelslager (R-District 48) called the meeting to order and presented the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 proposed Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Budget under HB 62.
The Transportation Budget, as presented by Oelslager (pictured above), would include an increase of 10.7 cents per gallon on gasoline and 20 cents per gallon on diesel. There would be a three-year phase-in on both increases as follows:
5 cents in October 1, 2019
3 cents on October 1, 2020
2.7 cent on October 1, 2021
10 cents on October 1, 2019
6 cents on October 1, 2020
4 cents on October 1, 2021
And, it was noted, “This increase will not be indexed,” with the emphasis included in the hard-copy document distributed to the Finance Committee members.
The document also reported that the increases in the state motor fuel taxes, once fully phased in, will yield approximately $872 million. The current split of 60/40 between ODOT and local governments will be maintained.
The proposal includes new registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, at $200 and $100, respectively.
Compressed natural gas will be added to the types of fuel that are taxable under the motor fuel tax.
An additional investment in public transit of $70 million per year is also included.
The proposal contained 34 other provisions, mainly administrative in nature.
HB 62, in this form, is a stark contrast to what has been proposed by Governor Mike DeWine, as recently as a few hours prior when DeWine made his State of the State address to the Ohio Legislature in the House chambers.
DeWine asked lawmakers to support his 18 cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase, which would raise an additional $1.2 billion in revenues annually for state and local road projects.
Chairman Oelslager told The Ohio Star that the proposal he presented was the result of bi-partisan input from members of the House Finance Committee.
Tuesday, March 5, was the eighth hearing the committee has held on the fiscal year 2020-2021 Transportation Budget.
Thus far, Oelslager told The Star, an estimated 23 to 24 hours of testimony had been presented with 62 witnesses having been heard.
Oelslager also said that the amount of revenue generated through the fuel tax increases he proposed was sufficient to meet the needs that had been stated for new projects, maintenance and safety.
While Jack Marchbanks, DeWine’s appointee as Director of ODOT was in attendance, he did not testify.
Jim Tymon, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Tony Long, Ohio Chamber of Commerce; Jason Warner, Greater Ohio Policy Center; and Joe Hollebaugh, Association of Professional Towers gave testimony, while several others scheduled to testify, perhaps due to the delay, instead left their written testimony.
The House Finance Committee is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, March 6, at 5:30 p.m. with possible amendments to the bill as well as a possible vote.
Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Tennessee Star.