A Sunday deadline passed with the Ohio Legislature and Senate failing to reach a deal on Gov. Mike DeWine's proposal for a gasoline tax increase.
Negotiations between the state House and Senate broke down March 29 and were adjourned until April 1, ensuring that the deadline of March 29 would not be met and the proposed tax increase would not take effect by July 1, as the governor wanted.
Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks said in a statement to the Governor's Advisory Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Feb. 5 that without suitable revenue enhancements, the DOT would run out of money for highway improvement projects July 1.
Marchbanks described the situation as a "fiscal cliff."
DeWine initially called on Ohio legislators to increase the state's gasoline tax by 18 cents and to index the tax to inflation to ensure ODOT's annual budget could properly maintain the state's transportation network.
The governor and House leaders announced a deal March 28 whereby the gas tax would rise 11 cents per gallon and the diesel fuel tax would rise by 20 cents per gallon, according to a report in the Dayton Daily News.
The original Senate plan increased the gas tax and diesel by only 6 cents per gallon, however, and by the time negotiations failed, the Senate was offering an 8.5-cent-per-gallon increase on gasoline and a 13-cent-per-gallon increase on diesel, the Daily News Reported.
The last time the state increased the gas tax was in 2003, when a two-cent increase for three consecutive years was approved. This tax was not indexed to inflation, and so, while ODOT's budget has essentially remained frozen, traffic volumes on ODOT roads are at "an all-time high," and with increased fuel efficiency, less gasoline is being purchased, Marchbanks said in his statement.
DeWine called the 11-cent compromise a way to "improve and maintain" safer roads and bridges across Ohio, the Daily News reported.