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Falling Gas Tax Revenue Could Curb Ohio's Road Construction Projects

highway in Columbus
Gabe Rosenberg

People are driving less during the pandemic, and that could potentially cause roadblocks in Ohio’s highway construction projects. That's one of the issues addressed in the two-year state budget unveiled last week.

After a battle that went on for a few months, Ohio’s gas tax was increased 10.5 cents two years ago. But Ohio's Office of Budget and Management director Kim Murnieks says business and entertainment shutdowns for the pandemic caused that revenue to drop $125 million below estimates for the fourth quarter of 2020.

“We’re seeing them begin to recover. We do not expect them to return to the pre-pandemic levels until into the future, not in this upcoming biennium,” Murnieks says.

Murnieks expects gas tax revenue for the Ohio Department of Transportation to be down $333 million from forecasts before the pandemic. For now, she says federal funds from a December relief package to help with road construction will fill the holes.