by J.D. Davidson
The Ohio House has passed a bill that would give employers $25,000 in tax credits to train new drivers in an effort to help companies across the state alleviate a growing truck driving shortage.
House Bill 197, backed by trucking and business organizations, now heads to the Senate. It passed the House, 97-0, this week.
“I am a small business owner, and the hardest position to fill in my company has always been a CDL truck driver because they are in such great demand,” Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus, R-Paris Township, said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee. “After getting frustrated because I could not find drivers, I started training current employees to be drivers on my own dime. Having trained several employees of my own, I know what a huge expense this can be to a company.”
The temporary credit would be capped at $1.5 million annually and would apply to training expenses that began Jan. 1. The Ohio Legislative Service Commission reported it would mean a loss of $1.45 million a year for the state’s general revenue fund and $50,000 for the local government fund.
According to the American Trucking Association, the nation faces a shortage of 60,000 truck drivers, which could grow to more than 160,000 by 2028.
“This is a problem sweeping the nation, yet, unfortunately, many states, including Ohio, do not have adequate support established to individuals overcome the financial barriers when trying to become a commercial vehicle driver,” Edwin Nagle, chair of the Ohio Trucking Association and president of Nagle Companies in Walbridge, Ohio, said. “Once again, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how important the trucking industry is to our daily lives.”
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce echoed the thoughts of the trucking industry, testifying that the bill is important to fill a growing need by offering but limiting the credit and making it retroactive Jan. 1.
“We all know how important and valuable commercial vehicle operators are to our economy and we also know that there is a major need as it relates to commercial vehicle operators,” said Kevin Boehner, director of small business and workforce policy at the Ohio chamber.
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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist for The Center Square with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.
Photo “Truck Driver” by Oregon Department of Transportation. CC BY 2.0.