Once again, Ohio is heading down a regressive path here

Submitted by Susan Miller on Fri, 01/30/2009 - 20:33.

Gene Krebs says it well: Don’t Bail Out ODOT- an op-ed from Greater Ohio

"“Fix it First” – that is, dedicating resources to fix existing roads and streets before building new – is another action item that aligns with the ODOT report; however, if we are serious about “fix it first” then we also need to require ODOT to pay for the maintenance of state highways that pass through cities, instead of stopping maintenance at a city’s edge. This suggestion did not make the report. However, it was one of the main points made by Mayor Jay Williams of Youngstown at our Restoring Prosperity Summit held on September 10, 2008. Our initial findings and policy recommendations are contained in a preliminary report that was released at the Summit – Restoring Our Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing Ohio’s Core Communities. (You can find the full report at www.greaterohio.org.)



The primary funding mechanism recommended in the Task Force report is an increase in the gasoline tax, with the suggestion that the revenue from that special tax be used to secure bonds as part of a capital bond financing program run by the Ohio Transportation Finance Commission. Both the proceeds of the bonds and the revenue would be made available for all transportation modes. But gasoline consumption is going down; no surprise as Hummers are traded for Hondas. Every time you trade in a car that gets 20 mpg for one that gets 30 mpg, ODOT loses a lot of revenue from you. According to ODOT’s latest business plan there will be a $3.5 billion deficit by 2015 for transportation in Ohio.

Do we really want to increase taxes on a declining revenue source? ODOT would have an even larger vested interest in keeping us in cars and burning as much gasoline as possible. Furthermore, most other states are incentivizing reductions in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT’s). Once again, Ohio is heading down a regressive path here.

Since we did not examine ODOT’s management issues, how do we know that there are no cost savings in the ODOT system? How do we know that this increase in gasoline tax, expansion of toll roads and increases in car registration fees generates the right amount of revenue? What is the right amount?

The proof is in the funding. The funding mechanisms recommended by the Task Force will not put Ohio on the path to long-term prosperity. ODOT doesn’t need a bailout. What it needs is greater accountability and performance criteria on infrastructure investments so it is truly transformative in meeting Ohio’s economic, social, and environment/energy goals..."

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What is your take on this?

 Susan, are you you agreeing with the fix it first approach, but disagreeing with the means to achieve the end--the regressive tax?  I don't see an increase in the gasoline tax as regressive as this author Gene Krebs implies.  What other funding mechanism should be in place?  He leaves me with a very vague non-solution. ( I am doing my best to ignore the tit-for-tat going on...right now :) Here is an organization working to watch and prioritize transportation dollars: http://t4america.org/platform

regressive PATH

I agree that we should always start with the budget - know what you have currently and what you need to spend that on. So, in our region, ODOT has a lot of city streets, one innerbelt bridge and some crumbling rural roads to shore up long before they start opportunity corridors and west shoreway curb cuts for developers. Fix it first and don't stop at the city's edge. Don't use an increased gas tax just for keeping us in our cars and then expect us to bail ODOT out of deficit spending on unnecessary vanity projects (or are they developer favors - CCF, UH and UCI favors?), for instance with an increase on the gas tax. Gas tax should be redirected to all transportation - not just new rural and exurban (and now they want to run more highways through our cities) spending.  Trains and buses... ODOT should be funding those forms of transport and bike lanes, too, not just cars.

Since we did not examine ODOT’s management issues, how do we know that there are no cost savings in the ODOT system?

This is telling. I can say from having spent time on the ODOT section 106 review of historic properties in the path of the WAAAAY out of proportion innerbelt project, that management issues should be the first thing to be considered.  As Ed Hauser pointed out regularly, they don't even know how to conduct a public process. Sound familar?

put ODOT on a diet

Our experience with ODOT, in the matter of the Fulton Road Bridge and the Tremont hearings, is that they are arrogant and have way to much money to use against us. Because they are obscenely funded and not terrible accountable, they have an advantage when it comes to doing whatever they want to build their fiefdom.

It's time to put them on a rigid diet and monitor their intake, and measure the results.


sustainability calls for using less gas - I cant believe thay havent "caught on" to this yet - or is it selective gearing? (sic)