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Ohio H.B. 62 to Increase State Transportation Budget

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

The Ohio House passed House Bill 62 last week, in a bipartisan vote total, in order to increase the state gas tax to improve funding for road and bridges improvements and to ratchet up the funding for public transportation.

The gas tax increase will mean that motorists will pay an extra 10.7 cents more per gallon and truckers an extra 20 cents more for diesel under a two-year transportation budget. The House tax increase falls short of the 18 cents tax increase proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine.

The House bill calls for a tax increase of 10 cents per gallon effective October, 2019 and an additional 3.7 cents in October 2020.

The tax plan, if approved by the Ohio Senate, possibly as early as this week, will generate an estimated $872 million annually once it is phased in in its entirety and that figure includes an additional $200 million for public transportation.

“There’s a substantial increase for public transportation in the state of Ohio,” said Jim Gee, president of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority. “We are very appreciative of that and our message [has carried] on the importance of public transportation on the economy of the state.”

Ohio has the 14th highest public transit ridership of any state in the nation but ranks near the bottom in state funding for public transportation

The bill passed the House with a 71 to 27 vote.

The Ohio Department of Transportation had estimated that an annual shortfall of $1.5 billion could be projected for state and local governments’ budgets for necessary road and bridge maintenance and new construction projects.

 “I am proud of our Democratic wins that secure historic investments in public transportation and local community funding,” said Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron).

One of the amendments to H.B. 62 that was proposed by Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson will change the membership regulations for public transit authorities so that proposed funding changes, that need to be approved y voters, can be placed before voters if the transit members approve by a majority vote.

TARTA, for example, has nine members – its board, the city of Toledo and surrounding communities that utilize TARTA services. During 2018, when TARTA sought to place before the voters in its service area a change to its local funding source from property tax to sales tax (a funding system that most large cities in Ohio use), the transit system needed the approval of all its members. The Sylvania Township Board of Trustees vetoed the plan and local voters never had the opportunity to express their approval or disapproval.

The Hicks-Hudson amendment, if approved, would enable transit systems such as TARTA to obtain a majority vote of its members, rather than a unanimous vote, on such critical issues, and allow voters to have the final say.

“We are really, really hopeful about this amendment staying in the final bill,” said Gee. “So we can get our message in front of the voters.”

According to Hicks-Hudson, the passage of the tax bill will help public transportation and will also ultimately lead to “help for local roads and help for working men and women.”




Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/14/19 23:23:33 -0400.

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