Governor, lawmakers try to cut deal on Ohio gas tax increase

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FILE – In this Thursday, July 16, 2015, file photo, a customer re-fuels her car at a Costco in Robinson Township, Pa. The plunging price of oil in 2016 is dragging stock markets to their worst start to a year ever, even though low fuel prices are great for consumers and most companies. (AP Photo/Gene […]

The state gas tax would rise 11 cents under a deal worked out by Gov. Mike DeWine and House Speaker Larry Householder to fix deteriorating roads and bridges, but the next step in negotiations is to bring Senate Republicans on board.

A joint Senate-House committee planned to meet Friday to iron out differences between their plans for the state Department of Transportation budget. In a sign that House and Senate disagreements continue, the committee pushed a planned morning meeting to the early afternoon.

DeWine and Householder, both Republicans, announced their deal Thursday under which the diesel fuel tax would also rise by 20 cents per gallon.

But Senate lawmakers weren’t in agreement yet. “We’re not comfortable with those numbers,” Sen. Matt Dolan, a Republican from Chagrin Falls in northeastern Ohio, said Thursday.

The original Senate plan increased the current tax of 28 cents a gallon for gas and diesel by only six cents. Householder said the current Senate proposal involves an 8.5 cents-per-gallon gasoline increase and a 13 cents-per-gallon increase on diesel.

Householder put pressure on Senate lawmakers to act, saying that making tough decisions comes with the job.

“The fact is, this is the job we were hired to do,” Householder said Thursday.

“When you come here, you’ve got to put on your big-boy pants, you’ve got to pull your binky out of your mouth and you’ve got to make tough decisions,” he said.

DeWine called the 11-cent compromise a way to “improve and maintain” safer roads and bridges across Ohio.

Ohio hasn’t increased its state gas tax since 2005.

The House and Senate, in the meantime, have agreed on a figure that would boost public transportation funding, adding $70 million a year, up from the current $33 million.

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