The Ohio Senate will continue work Wednesday on a the new transportation budget that will determine how much, if at all, Ohio’s gas tax will increase.
The Ohio Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee introduced its version of a two-year transportation budget Tuesday, but it hasn’t come up with a value for the proposed gas tax increase.
The Ohio House turned Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed 18-cent tax hike into a 10.7 cents per gallon increase over the next two years and a 20-cent jump for diesel to be added over the next three years. That version of the tax increase would split 55 percent of the revenue to the state and 45 to local governments.
The Senate made several changes to other parts of the budget but didn’t alter the gas plan, yet.
“Please do not take that as an indication that we are accepting the House versions tax package…In fact, I can promise you there’s a very high likelihood that it’s going to change,” said the committee’s chair Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon.
Changes in the Senate’s version of the budget include:
* The Senate decreased the fee for hybrid vehicles from $100 in the House bill to $75 and from $200 to $175 for plug-in electric vehicles. The House originally added the fees because drivers of those vehicles buy less or no gas but still use the roads.
* Drivers with compressed natural gas vehicles would also have to pay the diesel tax rate, a higher rate than the one determined by a House formula.
* The Senate removed provisions added by the House that would put regulation of electric scooters in the hands of the state, rather than cities. It also removed provisions that would allow earphones while riding a motorcycle.
* Under the House bill, it would be more difficult and expensive for local government to use red light cameras. The Senate removed those provisions.
* It will also require gas stations to display gas and diesel tax rates and statistics using stickers at pumps, receipts or entrances.
* Chartered nonpublic schools could charge transportation fees for school-sponsored activities, not just to and from school, under the Senate’s version.
* It would also eliminate the proposed catastrophic snowfall fund, which would provide the Ohio Department of Transportation and communities up to $250,000 to clean streets in storms with 18 inches of snow or more.
The transportation budget must be approved by the General Assembly by March 31.
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