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Senate President Not Ruling Out Gas Tax Hike

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Karen Kasler
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Senate President Larry Obhof

News that there’s no money for new road construction projects in the transportation budget coming next month has state lawmakers considering how to fix that. And one Republican leader isn’t ruling out a hike in the gas tax. 

ODOT’s construction budget has come from bonds taken out against the Ohio Turnpike, but that revenue stream is drying up, leaving ODOT with an estimated $700 million less than it had five years ago. So Senate President Larry Obhof says all options are on the table, including an increase in the 28-cent a gallon gas tax.

“Anytime you talk about increasing taxes, that’s probably not going to meet a very warm reception in the Senate. But we will consider our alternatives,” Obhof said.

A coalition of business leaders and local officeholders called Fix Our Roads Ohio is suggesting a gas tax hike or an annual fee on electric vehicles or a dedicated funding source for public transit. But the group says construction projects are economic drivers and can’t be put off.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.