ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks testifies before the Ohio House Finance committee, proposing an 18-cent increase to the gas tax. (Andy Chow | Statehouse News Bureau)

State Lawmakers Mulling Over Impact Of Gas Tax Increase

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Gov. Mike DeWine says raising the gas tax from 28-cents a gallon to 46-cents a gallon will help fill a $1 billion construction budget shortfall, but the proposal has led to a debate over how it will impact Ohioans.

Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning groups are concerned a gas tax will disproportionately hurt poor people.

“Gas taxes are regressive meaning lower income people and middle income people pay a greater share of their income on the tax than do higher income people and we think to address that gas tax money should be set aside to invest in public transit, to help low income people, people with disabilities and elderly people have affordable, accessible transportation options,” says Victoria Jackson, researcher with Policy Matters Ohio.

Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), House minority caucus leader, is also concerned about the consequences a higher gas tax would have on the working class, families, and seniors.

The Ohio Municipal League issued a statement in support of the proposal, saying it will help spur connections to employment, commerce, and social services.

“Municipalities have made this a key public policy priority, because we understand the importance of well-maintained local transportation system for our community’s economy, health and safety,” says Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst, president of the Ohio Municipal League.

The Ohio House Finance committee will hold hearings on the proposal and the Ohio General Assembly must approve the transportation budget by the end of March.