Find more money for Ohio highways

Because nearly everyone who votes also drives a car or truck, most politicians are afraid to suggest increasing taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. Give new Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine credit for having the courage to do just that.

DeWine wants legislators to increase fuel taxes by 18 cents per gallon, up from the current 28 cents. He also suggests linking the tax to the consumer price index; if it goes up, so does the tax.

Especially in counties where recent years have seen increases in license plate fees to raise more money for roads and bridges, DeWine’s idea may not be popular. But the fee increases are a microscopic drop in the bucket compared to the money needed to get Ohio roads and bridges back into decent condition.

Nobody wants tax increases. But if they have to be done, taxpayers want to see with their own eyes what is being done. Such as roadways actuaully becoming better, not on the other side of the state somewhere but in their own areas. The Salem News ran a poll the other day asking readers if they were keen on a gas tax increase. It shouldn’t be surprising that 81 percent responded “no.”

DeWine’s proposal has one hidden appeal that ought to be apparent in our area: Ohio is crisscrossed by interstate highways, on which much of the traffic is from outside the state. A substantial portion of the fuel tax is paid by drivers who do not live in our state.

No doubt, DeWine’s proposal will not be met with open arms in the General Assembly. At least it opens the door to a conversation lawmakers should have had years ago, about how to provide more money to maintain roads and bridges.