The Buckeye Institute: Policymakers Must Maintain User-Fee Funding for Infrastructure and Look for Long-Term Solutions

Feb 15, 2019

Columbus, OH – Greg R. Lawson, research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, issued the following statement reacting to the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure report.

“Maintaining and improving Ohio’s transportation infrastructure is a critical function of state government. And while user fees—such as the gas tax—are more transparent and fair, any increase in the gas tax can only be seen as a short-term solution to a long-term problem. With more fuel-efficient cars and electric vehicles, the gas tax will soon be a declining source of revenue and policymakers must consider long-term funding solutions such as registration or license fees, miles travelled fees, or some combination. 

“Although a user fee is the smartest form of taxation for infrastructure, policymakers are still obligated to use those dollars wisely and ensure that every tax dollar is stretched as far as possible. Looking to the savings the state realized when it eliminated the prevailing wage law for school construction projects—nearly 10 percent or $500 million, over a four-year period—policymakers should likewise eliminate the law for transportation projects, which would make additional funds available for maintenance and construction.

“Furthermore, policymakers must look to off-set any increase in the gas tax with a reduction in other taxes paid by Ohioans to ensure Ohio’s recent success in reducing the overall tax burden on its residents is not undone.

“As this debate moves forward, The Buckeye Institute urges policymakers to maintain appropriate user fees rather than redirecting general revenues to cover funding shortfalls, and any increase in the gas tax should be viewed as a stopgap measure to allow policymakers to transition Ohio to a more sustainable user-fee funding source.”

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