ACEC Ohio opposes call to divert fuel tax revenue from highway construction
Transit advocates seek to amend Ohio Constitution
ACEC Ohio will oppose a proposal to amend the Ohio Constitution to remove the requirement that proceeds from the state's motor fuel tax be used only for highway and bridge construction.
A coalition of social service and environmental groups in northeast Ohio calling itself Save Transit Now, Move Ohio Forward! has announced a campaign to find new ways to fund local transit services. At the top of its priority list: repeal the constitutional restriction on use of fuel taxes so that some of that revenue can be diverted to support transit.
In response to that proposal, a broad-based coalition of associations is already forming to oppose any move to amend the constitution and the ACEC Ohio Board of Directors has voted to join in the opposition.
"It's not that the board feels additional funding for local transit operations isn't needed," said ACEC Ohio Executive Director Don Mader. "It's just that the board opposes this ‘rob Peter to pay Paul' approach to funding transportation in Ohio."
As a founding member of the Transportation Matters coalition, ACEC Ohio supports that organization's call for a comprehensive approach to increasing funding for all modes of transportation, not simply diverting dollars from one mode that is already underfunded to support another mode, he said.
Little more than a year ago, the 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force, a 60-member commission appointed by Governor Ted Strickland, recommended that a broad range of new funding options for transportation, but specifically opposed "any change to the constitutional dedication of the existing motor fuel tax to highway purposed."
"The ACEC Ohio board supports the task force recommendations, as does Transportation Matters," Mader said. "Advocates for all the various transportation modes should join together to urge state leaders to take a comprehensive approach to the funding shortage, rather than pitting one mode against another."
A press release issued by Save Transit Now, Move Ohio Forward claims that, "Despite the need for public transportation, Ohio transit agencies have been forced to slash transit services and raise fares.
"Cuts to federal and state transit funding have forced Ohio transit agencies to rely on local sales, income and property taxes, which are difficult to procure and tumbling due to the economy. Because of this overdependence on local funding, all Ohio public transit agencies are in serious trouble."
While most states have increased spending on public transportation, Ohio has cut funding by 75% since 2002, the coalition said. Further, it contends the Ohio Department of Transportation devotes less than one percent of its budget to support of public transportation, ranking it 40th in the nation for relative commitment to transit.
Other coalition members include: the Greater Cleveland RTA Citizen Advisory Board; Laketran; GreenCityBlueLake Institute; Ohio Empowerment Coalition and Contact Center; Environment Ohio; Ohio Environmental Council; and Bike, Walk Ohio! The coalition has aligned itself with the Apollo Alliance, a national advocacy group that supports "clean energy, good jobs."