Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll ask Ohio lawmakers to pass an 18-cent-per-gallon increase to the state’s gas tax to fill a looming shortfall on road repair money.
That would raise Ohio's gas tax to 46 cents per gallon, an increase of 64 percent. Speaking to radio station WTAM in Cleveland on Wednesday, DeWine said he doesn’t want to increase the gas tax, but said road upkeep a matter of “life and death.”
The tax would need to be passed by legislators as part of the transportation budget, which is being considered in the House Finance Committee. If approved, ODOT director Jack Marchbanks says the increase would happen on July 1. The tax would also be tied with inflation.
The tax would raise $1.2 billion annually, according to ODOT estimates. The revenues are split 60-40 between state and local projects.
DeWine said there are no other solutions outside a gas tax increase, while warning that any increase simply keeps Ohio from falling behind.
“It’s irresponsible for me to go out and tell the people we should go borrow money so we can fix our roads,” DeWine said. “We gotta face the problem.”
DeWine, a Republican, ran an anti-tax campaign for governor against Democrat Richard Cordray, and frequently criticized his opponent for tax increases passed when Cordray served in state offices.
Ohio's road maintenance and infrastructure are facing an "impending crisis" unless more funding is provided for those types of projects, Marchbanks said earlier this year.
Contracts for road maintenance that totaled $2.4 billion in 2014 may drop to $1.5 billion in 2020, and a $1 billion gap remains in the department budget, Marchbanks said.
The transportation budget must be signed by March 31.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story