A 62-member task force is recommending that Ohio raise its gas tax $.13 from $.28 per gallon to $.41 per gallon. They are also suggesting that the state constitution be amended to allow the proceeds from this tax to be used for waterway and transit improvements.
Currently, the tax is only allowed to be used for roads and bridges.
The committee also thinks the state should consider raising vehicle registration and drivers license fees by $1.
If the tax were raised, it would be a 46% increase.
Governor Ted Strickland's spokesman said the governor doesn't think raising the gas tax is a wise thing to do in the middle of a recession. And I'd have to agree.
Strickland has ordered cuts in state spending as a result of the reduced revenue the state has been getting. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the cuts, though I have some issues with his desire to increase eligibility for Medicaid and add more people to that program.
I also take exception to the stimulus plan passed by the Republicans (with support from Democrats) and signed by the Democrat Governor. And that plan appears to be in trouble as some of the funding for the 'stimulus' is tied up in a lawsuit or is scheduled to come from the general fund.
Faced with these issues, I can't help but believe that elected officials will choose a tax increase just so they don't have to make difficult decisions to cut unnecessary and/or non-mandated programs. If our state legislators think they can get new money for essentials, like roads and bridges, it will allow them to spend existing funds as they want.
As residents, taxpayers and voters in Ohio, we should get our representatives and senators on the record when it comes to this increased tax. And we should do so before they start getting lobbied by local governments and special interest groups who will want some of those increased revenues.
Call your state reps today and ask them to say yes or no to the idea ... and then let's hold them accountable.