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The current federal tax is 18.4 cents per gallon for gas and 24.4 cents for diesel. Biden wants to waive those fees for three months, a loss of about $10 billion. He asked state and local officials to offer gas tax holidays, too.
But DeWine, a Republican, has consistently opposed suspending or repealing Ohio's gas tax, which is currently 38.5 cents for gas and 47 cents for diesel. Ohio's gas tax is among the highest in the nation, but still lower than neighbors Pennsylvania and Indiana.
In 2019, DeWine pushed for a 10.5-cent increase in the state's tax on gas and a 19-cent increase on diesel. With the help of then-House Speaker Larry Householder, the tax hike easily passed the GOP-controlled Legislature.
In pushing for the increase, Householder memorably said: “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.”
But as gas prices rose to $3.23 per gallon in late 2021, Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, proposed a five-year break on the increased gas tax. Huffman's Senate Bill 277 would offset the lost tax money with federal infrastructure dollars. But DeWine opposes the idea and the bill has received just one hearing.
On Wednesday, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said suspending Ohio's gas tax would halt highway and infrastructure projects without easing much of the price at the pump. Gas prices have risen by about $2 per gallon in the past year, according to AAA.
"To be blunt, we can’t fund the Brent Spence Bridge without the gas tax," said Tierney, referencing the massive Ohio River project that has been stalled for years.
Former Dayton Nan Whaley, the Democrat challenging DeWine in November, called on the governor to suspend Ohio's gas tax for six months. She proposed using the state's rainy day fund or federal infrastructure money to make up for the lost revenue.
"This is an easy, but important step towards cutting costs for working families," Whaley said in a statement. "While Mike DeWine tries to score political points and blame others for high gas prices, he’s refused to actually take action that is within his control to help people who are struggling."
DeWine blamed the high gas prices on Biden administration policies to reduce fossil fuel use, leading to reduced fuel refining capacity. Biden has blamed sanctions from Russia's war against Ukraine and oil producers' record profits.
Earlier this month, DeWine also asked the U.S. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove restrictions on 15% ethanol (E-15) fuel permanently. Biden's administration waived them for the summer months, hoping to increase supply.
USA TODAY contributed to this article.
Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio gas prices: Biden proposes federal tax holiday. DeWine opposes.