ODOT budget update: tax break for petroleum industry and other amendments

The House Finance Committee passed a substitute version of HB114, the transportation budget bill, on Monday. Included among the many amendments was a provision “clarifying” that when the Commercial Activity Tax was created in HB66 back in 2005, it had not been the intent of the General Assembly to apply the tax to exchanges of motor fuel between petroleum companies. In other words, the state has been collecting revenue on this activity for four years, but with this amendment, that will now cease. The benefit to the industry is estimated at up to $10 million per year.

By way of comparison, the bill reduces funding for public transit by $30 million per year compared to what the Strickland administration proposed. Everyone understands that funds are limited, but in this case, it was determined that a tax break for the petroleum industry was more important than limiting the magnitude of cuts to public transit.

Other amendments of interest in the transportation budget (as a reminder, we made some predictions in our earlier post):

  • eliminates language around public-private partnerships, promising to treat this issue in separate, stand-alone legislation.
  • eliminates language that would allow ODOT to pay small firms for the expense of preparing bids for design-build contracts
  • eliminates language that would have allowed ODOT to grant power to approve advertising signs to the local level
  • contains a $25,000 earmark from rail development funds for a capacity study of the Sharonville rail yard

According to Gongwer, the committee will hear testimony on Wednesday with the bill heading to the floor on Thursday. We haven’t received any email or tweets from the Finance Committee indicating that a Wednesday hearing was scheduled, nor can we find a change to the committee calendar on the General Assembly website, so we have not updated the events calendar. The committee is meeting tonight, and we still think it’s possible they will send the bill back to the full House at tomorrow’s session. We’ll post an update if we get clarification.

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