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Gov. DeWine Will Ask Lawmakers For Gas Tax Hike On Thursday

highway in Columbus
Gabe Rosenberg

Gov. Mike DeWine will ask to raise the state’s 28 cent-a-gallon gas tax, a recommendation that emerged from a committee he appointed. That increase would help patch a hole of more than a $1 billion in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s budget.

DeWine, however, won’t yet get specific on what he’ll ask for.

ODOT director Jack Marchbanks has said a one-penny increase in the gas tax would raise $67 million, with $42 million going to the state.

In a session with reporters sponsored by the Ohio Associated Press, DeWine was asked several times about a gas tax hike. He wouldn’t give a number, but he did hint that the increase is likely to be significant.

“Certainly the minimal we should do is keep the status quo. I don’t think anyone wants to see Ohio move backwards. If you don’t hit that $1.5 billion mark, you’re not keeping up," DeWine said.

Contracts for road maintenance that totaled $2.4 billion in 2014 may drop to $1.5 billion in 2020, and a $1 billion gap remains in the department budget, Marchbanks said.

Some have estimated the gas tax would have to nearly double to raise that $1 billion.

DeWine says he learned ODOT was having a financial problem during last year’s campaign for governor, but didn’t have the full measure of it until now.