Observe impact of tax hike, revisit it if needed
It appears motorists filling up in Ohio will be paying more for their gasoline and diesel fuel. State legislators and Gov. Mike DeWine have negotiated a compromise on higher fuel taxes.
Another 10.5 cents per gallon will be added to the state tax on gasoline. Diesel fuel will go up by 18 cents a gallon.
Those rates are substantially less than DeWine had sought.
But in addition to the higher tax, the compromise also gives local governments a bigger slice of the pie. They receive 40% of proceeds from current fuel taxes. They are to be given 45 percent of the new taxes.
No one likes to pay higher taxes. But keep in mind the purpose of the increases: to ensure Ohio highways and bridges are smooth and safe. This is not some new government giveaway intended to win votes. It is government doing its job.
Fuel tax increases are intended to provide an additional $850 million a year for roads and bridges. That not only seems like a lot, it is.
Will it be enough to rectify years of underfunding of highway and bridge maintenance and repair? DeWine clearly does not think so, or he would not have proposed steeper tax increases.
The compromise seems about right. Still, DeWine and lawmakers should keep an eye on the highway and bridge problem. If, within a few years, higher fuel taxes are required to keep motorists safe, they should be considered.