COLUMBUS — A Repub­li­can state law­maker has pro­posed up­ping ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion fees as a bet­ter means of cov­er­ing the costs of main­tain­ing Ohio road­ways.
And Sen. Bill Co­ley (R-West Ch­ester) said the ad­di­tional up­front cost for mo­torists would be off­set by gas tax breaks af­ter­ward — in other words, mo­torists would pay their share of Ohio’s mo­tor fuel tax up front an­nu­ally and then not have to pay those taxes again when fill­ing their gas tanks.
“You pay your $140 and you’re done pay­ing gas tax for the year in the state of Ohio,” Co­ley said dur­ing a mid­day press con­fer­ence at the State­house.
Co­ley said he of­fered the changes as part of dis­cus­sions on the bi­en­nial trans­porta­tion bud­get, which the Ohio Se­nate is ex­pected to move March 21, set­ting the stage for con­fer­ence com­mit­tee de­lib­er­a­tions and a fi­nal leg­isla­tive vote some­time next week.
His pro­posal won’t be part of the two-year spend­ing plan for the Ohio Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and a hand­ful of other state agen­cies, how­ever; Co­ley in­stead in­tro­duced the changes as sep­a­rate leg­is­la­tion, SB 113
The state needs to ad­dress the gas tax is­sue, given in­creased use of ve­hi­cles that run on al­ter­na­tive fu­els, he said. Oper­a­tors of Tes­las, cars that run on com­pressed nat­u­ral gas and oth­ers aren’t pay­ing gas taxes at the same lev­els as con­ven­tion ve­hi­cles, though they are driv­ing on Ohio’s roads just as much.
“We’re con­sum­ing fewer and fewer gal­lons of gas for ev­ery mile driven, and yet it’s not get­ting any cheaper to build roads,” Co­ley said.
Co­ley also said Ohio ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion fees are lower than other states.
Un­der Co­ley’s pro­posal, the state would in­crease ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion fees to cover what is cur­rently gen­er­ated by the state’s mo­tor ve­hi­cle fuel tax, mean­ing reg­u­lar mo­torists would pay about $140 an­nu­ally in­stead of $30-some cur­rently charged, he said. Fees would be higher for trucks.
Mo­torists, in re­turn, would re­ceive cards that they could scan when pur­chas­ing fuel, ex­empt­ing them from pay­ing any mo­tor fuel tax for the year.
“They would swipe that card in the gas pump, they pump their gas, and 28 cents per gal­lon… would come off the price of their fuel,” he said.
SB 113 was for­mally in­tro­duced March 21, with Co­ley as the main spon­sor and one other law­maker listed as a co-spon­sor. It will be as­signed to a com­mit­tee for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion.
Marc Ko­vac cov­ers the Ohio State­house for Gate­house Me­dia. Con­tact him at mko­vac@record­ or on Twit­ter at OhioCap­i­talBlog.