Ohio Transportation Funding (2019)
On behalf of Ohio highway contractors and engineers, roadway users, local governments, businesses and other stakeholders, Steiner PR led a third-party advocacy effort for a substantial increase in Ohio’s motor fuel user fee. Steiner PR developed strategy and messaging, commissioned opinion research, produced communications, and built a diverse statewide coalition focused on bringing awareness of the issue to the public and to state legislators and policy makers.
The state transportation budget was facing a massive structural deficit beginning in CY 2019. For the state ground transportation system, the budget hole would have caused deferral of critical new construction projects and routine maintenance. And it would have crippled already underfunded municipal, township and county jurisdictions that rely heavily on their share of state motor fuel user fee to build and maintain local roads and bridges.
ODOT and its allies and constituents were aware of the deficit, but the problem was not well-known by the public or understood by legislators, and the budget hole was a critical new issue for the administration of incoming Governor Mike DeWine.
Steiner PR initially worked behind the scenes to secure high profile stories in Ohio’s most influential media outlets to expose the issue and provide independent validation for the size and scope of the problem. A large and active statewide coalition of transportation interests, local governments and local Chambers of Commerce united behind a solution proposed by Governor DeWine.
Ultimately, most legislators acknowledged the problem and, with strong bipartisan support, adopted a balanced and robust transportation budget with a significant increase in the motor fee user fees, which included increases in taxes on gasoline and diesel fuels as well as new annual fees on electric vehicles.