With gas prices soaring above $3 per gallon, many hard-working Ohio moms and dads pray that their last quarter tank gets them to pay day. In these dire economic times, caused by skyrocketing inflation, we have to do what’s best for the families in this state.
We can all agree infrastructure is vitally important to economic development, but I believe first and foremost, that when there is an opportunity to put money back into the pockets of the taxpayers who earned it, we need to do that. In other words, paved roads are nice but what if people can’t afford to drive to work?
For these reasons, and more, I introduced Senate Bill 277 last December. The bill will repeal the gas tax increase from the 2019 Transportation Budget, when the tax was increased by 10.5 cents a gallon on gas and 19.5 cents a gallon on diesel. Analysts predicted the gas tax increase would provide $350 million dollars a year, or about $1.5 billion over the next five years, to upgrade roads, highways, and bridges. That was the estimated cost to upgrade Ohio’s roads, highways, and bridges.
In August 2022, the federal government passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. The Ohio Legislative Service Commission estimates this federal bill will provide $11.5 billion dollars to Ohio for roads, bridges, and highways in the next five years. That is approximately $10 billion more than what was claimed to be needed in 2019 to update our infrastructure over this five-year period.
For a number of reasons, but mainly due to Biden administration energy policies, gas prices have continually risen in 2021. The average price of gas in Ohio today is $3.19 per gallon compared to $1.93 just one year ago. Senate Bill 277 is a simple repeal of the gas tax increase for the next five years, reducing the financial burden on Ohio families without jeopardizing the quality of our roads and bridges.
Bureaucrats often argue that the gas tax isn’t really a tax, it’s a user fee. This simply shows how deeply entrenched in government, and out of touch with the people, they are. You and I know it’s a tax. We can all read the sticker on the gas pump.
I have heard from several members of our local governments that say, ‘the federal money for roads never make it to the local level.’ I plan to add an amendment that will guarantee our local townships, counties, and cities will, at the very least, receive the same amount for roads and bridges they would have received from the gas tax increase.
Roads, bridges and highways will still be built and improved, as the federal government is giving the State of Ohio almost ten times more money than what is needed. In five years, the gas and diesel tax will go back to where it was, so we can continue to invest in our infrastructure in Ohio.
This bill is a win for all drivers in Ohio. It provides relief to all Ohioans, especially those with less disposable income, without adversely affecting the ability to invest in our roads and bridges due to Ohio’s share of federal infrastructure dollars.
The bottom line: now more than ever, we need to repeal the latest gas tax increase for the next five years, because a dime over time adds up to unaffordable for many Ohio families.