Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s hand-picked Advisory Committee on Transportation has issued its final report on how best to address the deteriorating condition of Ohio’s roads and bridges. As early reports suggested, a gas tax hike is their only solution.
The 15 member panel agreed that raising taxes on the price of gasoline at the pump was the best way to address the shortfall of tax revenues. Though several other recommendations were made, a hike was the only suggestion that received a “broad consensus” of support.
The tax would be “indexed,” which means that the increase would be pegged to the Consumer Price Index, rising and lowering with it. Depending on which metrics are used, this could lead to significant price swings that would in no way reflect the actual price of gas per gallon.
Aware of this concern, the board did note:
We have to make sure that if we are going to be indexing … to inflation, we are using a standard third-party index to accurately reflect increases and decreases,…There should also be caps to avoid any major spikes in gas tax, a periodic legislative review, and requirements that increased revenues are applied only to road construction, operation, and maintenance uses.
The board did suggest several additional alternatives, but achieved no consensus on any of them nor did they provide any path forward to implementing them. The suggestions were: permissive registration fees, finding a way to collect revenues from hybrid and electric cars, and exploring alternative funding sources.
Gov. DeWine is under no obligation to accept their recommendation and has yet to indicate if he will. The failure to achieve consensus on any solution beyond a gas tax hike raises questions about the committee. The board only met sparingly in the two months they were convened. Should they have been given more time, perhaps some of the alternatives could have been developed further.
The full report is available here.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star.