Ohio must pass a transportation budget that addresses our transportation infrastructure funding issues, now, rather than providing a temporary fix that does not live up to the current needs of the state. Currently, there is earnest support from within the business community for increasing the state’s investment in roads and bridges and for increased levels of public transportation funding.

Key leaders from within the Greater Akron region’s business community firmly believe that to properly address the tangible needs of Ohio’s infrastructure and ensure Ohioans can travel reliably and affordably, the administration of Gov. Mike DeWine must fight for the investment in roads and bridges that is consistent with its original proposal of increasing the motor fuel tax by 18 cents and support the House’s proposed increased level of support for public transportation.

Having reliable, accessible and efficient roadways and bridges is imperative to the success and vitality of metropolitan areas and any funding shortfalls in this regard would harm Ohio’s overall economy. If the state transportation budget does not provide adequate funding, Ohio will continue facing a funding shortfall. This will prevent critical infrastructure projects from happening.

Since 2005, the motor fuel tax, or more commonly referred to as the gas tax, has not been adjusted in response to inflation. This has caused significant issues for local governments when trying to maintain and further develop local infrastructure. If increased state funding is not achieved in this transportation budget, we will exacerbate shortfalls already experienced by local governments and create even greater strain on their ability to maintain local roads and bridges.

Moving forward, the Ohio legislature must adopt the DeWine administration’s proposal to index the gas tax. By indexing the tax, funding for roads and bridges will keep up with inflation without the need for legislative action every couple of years. This fix provides a long-term resource for the state’s transportation infrastructure funding.

Also, the Greater Akron region’s business community understands the merit of an alternative vehicle user fee. Within Ohio, the gas tax is essentially a “road user fee,” and a reasonable presumption can be made that alternative vehicles should have equal responsibility in paying their fair share.

Funding for public transportation must be made a priority in this transportation budget. If public transportation does not receive the necessary funding to continue providing and improving upon regional public transportation systems, Ohio will be hurting the ability of its residents to travel to job hubs and other focal points of employment.

Gov. DeWine’s strong position about the inadequate resources available for Ohio’s transportation infrastructure reflects a clear understanding of the relationship between the health of our infrastructure and its continued development and our ability to support the growth of commerce and jobs in our state and connect Ohioans to those opportunities.

 

Gershen, the president of the Northeast Ohio Medical University, and Bartz, the president and chief executive of State and Federal Communications, are co-chairs of the Greater Akron Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee.