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.
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
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.
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
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.”