The Ohio Chamber testified on Monday, March 11 in the Ohio Senate, reiterating our support for increased funding for Ohio’s transportation infrastructure. Quality infrastructure is critical to the success of Ohio’s business community and that adequate funding of Ohio’s roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure needs is vital to the health of our economy.
Still, the Ohio Chamber is concerned that a large increase in the diesel tax, as proposed by the House as part of House Bill 62, the transportation budget, will impact shipping costs, intrastate users of diesel fuel, and negatively impact Ohio’s strong warehouse and distribution network. Our testimony listed these as among the negative impacts if the diesel increase stayed at the 20-cent increase adopted by the House, and urged the Senate to bring the proposed diesel rate increase into parity with the proposed gasoline rate increase – and at a level below the 20-cent rate hike proposed by the House.
The Ohio Chamber’s testimony did elicit several questions, including one about whether or not the Ohio Chamber believes that new transportation projects spur economic development. We do, recognizing that new projects not only add to capacity and relieve congestion, but can also transform and modernize the system for the future.
Another question concerned our recommendation that the Senate phase in the proposed new fee on alternative fuel vehicles, imposing a lower fee until such time that these types of vehicles attain a more significant market share of Ohio’s vehicle fleet. The Ohio Chamber is concerned that the fee structure in the House version of the bill will stifle the adoption of these relatively new products. We told Sen. Nickie Antonio that we would recommend the lower fee be maintained perhaps until market share reaches three percent. The Ohio Chamber will now be sharing our concerns directly with individual senators, and will continue to keep you updated on any developments. The chair of the Senate Transportation, Commerce & Workforce Committee has set the deadline for amendments to HB 62 for this Thursday afternoon. The bill is likely to be voted out of committee early next week, then be on the floor for a full Senate vote soon thereafter.