Gov. DeWine to ask for gas tax increase, will detail plan Thursday

Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday that he will ask lawmakers this week to increase the state gas tax to help fund $1.5 billion in construction, maintenance and safety projects on Ohio roads and bridges.

He declined to say exactly how much of an increase he will seek, saying that announcement will come Thursday when he unveils his two-year transportation budget bill in the Ohio House. The governor added that it makes sense to tie gas tax increases to inflation, as is done in other states.

DeWine said it’s not prudent or responsible to issue more debt to pay for road projects, as has been done in the past.

Related: ODOT Director: state needs more money to fix roads or ‘more people will get hurt’

Legislative leaders said they’ll weigh in on the gas tax once they have more information about the scope of the problem.

“We are not dismissing the fact we may need to raise the motor fuel tax,” said Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glendford.

Former governor John Kasich opted to issue $1.5 billion in bonds against future tolls collected by the Ohio Turnpike Commission to generate cash for construction projects. But that money, which started flowing in 2014, runs out later this year.

Ohio’s gas tax is lower than neighboring states, except for Kentucky where it’s 26 cents per gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

The gas tax is 58.7 cents in Pennsylvania, 44.1 cents in Michigan, 42.9 cents in Indiana and 35.7 cents in West Virginia.

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