Why I voted in favor of the State Transportation Budget
Many constituents have reached out to my office in recent weeks to better understand why I voted in favor of the State Transportation Budget that included a 10.5 cent increase of Ohio’s motor fuel tax. Let me explain some of the reasons why I voted as I did: I Am Still Working — In my work on the upcoming Biennial Operating Budget I will be looking for ways to cut the fat and advocate for offsetting tax cuts equal to the gas tax. I know there are areas in which we can trim government and by doing so, return the money to Ohioans; It’s Constitutional — The Ohio Constitution mandates that gas tax revenue be used only for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and/or repair of public highways and bridges; It’s Accountable — Many of us wonder if the taxes we pay actually go to the need they were intended and not diverted by some politician after the fact. Because it is in the Constitution, there are “guard rails” around the gas tax that ensure it goes to repair and maintain roads-every penny of it; It’s Reasonable — My constituents work hard for their money and according to a national safety study, Ohioan’s pay hundreds of dollars per year in car repairs because of bad roads. With the increased gas tax the average driver, driving average miles will pay around $1 extra per week for better roads and bridges. This is a financially smart move for taxpayers; It’s Necessary — Gov. DeWine’s preceding administration used a funding mechanism to fund the transportation budget without raising the gas tax. Their solution was to borrow against the gas tax revenues for three years. That borrowing left the state $390 million dollars in debt and facing a funding gap of about $900 million per year. Because of this and the fact we are already behind in repairs, (2,600 bridges are rated in poor condition), we must move quickly so that we do not find ourselves in a deeper hole than we currently are; It Benefits Local Governments — I advocated on behalf of our struggling local governments for a 50/50 split of the funds so that Ohio’s Local Government Fund would receive more funding. In the end, we were able to move the needle from 60/40 to 55/45, which will increase the local government share by $381 million. In closing, as I have stated before, this was a very difficult decision for me and was made only after much deliberation on what was truly best for the people I serve. I am honored to serve as representative for Columbiana County and look forward to working on your behalf in the future.