Saturday, August 2, 2003

Readers' Views

Ethanol tax ends up hurting Ohio


I agree with your editorial ("Fix the Gas: Tax Formula," July 30) regarding Ohio's federal transportation shortfall. The editorial accurately described several factors that result in Ohio giving more gas taxes to Washington than it receives in the way of funding for our roads and bridges.

However, the editorial missed one important inequity that has a relatively simple solution. It has to do with how current tax revenues from gasohol (gasoline with ethanol) are distributed.

Of the 13.2 cents per gallon of gasohol tax that we Ohioans currently pay, 2.5 cents go into the general treasury instead of the highway trust fund. The highway trust fund is the pool of money from which Ohio and all other states receive their transportation funds. Because Ohio is a heavy user of ethanol (third in the nation, as your editorial pointed out) this diversion of our collective 2.5 cents results in Ohio being disproportionately hurt. In fact, we are deprived of $50 million per year for our road building and highway safety improvement efforts.

I have authored legislation that would redirect these gasohol revenues from the general treasury back into the highway trust fund. This simple but important change would make a huge difference for Ohio. The legislation is supported by Senators Voinovich and DeWine and Gov. Taft and may well be taken up later this year as part of the legislation to establish a national energy strategy.

I also support the changes in the overall formula, which could result in Ohio getting back 95 cents for every gas tax dollar sent to Washington instead of just 89 cents. The new formula combined with my 2.5-cent fix would give Ohio nearly $100 million more annually to invest in our transportation needs and construction trades.

Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, 2nd District of Ohio

Efficient EMS trips, depend on citizens

The Enquirer ("Improve response times," July 30) says to improve local cardiac arrest survival rates, Cincinnati Fire Division must simply change the way it reports its response time, tell the public not to abuse the EMS system, and use increased fees to punish those who do. Too bad this is flawed thinking.

Some people have abused the transport system for a long time. Increasing fees for ambulance transport will primarily affect people who do not abuse the system. Many of those who do are uninsured and pay nothing for medical services.

Revamped response time reporting sounds great, but probably changes nothing. With a finite number of engine companies and ambulances and the personnel to staff them, there will always be a fixed distance between the firehouse and the location of an emergency. Citizens are the most important component of the chain of survival. Civilians must learn to make a proper 9-1-1 call with information that allows for a faster, more complete response by emergency personnel. It is also our responsibility to learn CPR and how to operate Automated External Defibrillators. The O'Hare Airport study showed that rapid response by civilians has the potential to increase cardiac arrest survival rates to greater than 50 percent.

Now the harsh reality. We could put paramedic units on every corner, and cardiac arrest victims would still die. Some people have such bad heart damage that they can't be resuscitated. Defibrillation works on only certain cardiac dysrhythmias, not every arrest victim. And, most important, life is a finite event. Somewhere inside of us we all have an expiration date.

Barbara C. Burton, Deerfield Township

West Nile can strike right here at home

I enjoyed reading the Tempo article ("No need to run from West Nile," July 30) to my wife, who is now in her fourth week in the hospital recovering from West Nile Virus.

My wife traveled to no remote outpost to catch this disease. She hasn't been out of Hamilton County in many weeks and probably contracted the virus in the garden beside our home in Wyoming. In just a couple of days she was unable to stand, could hardly talk and had major lapses of memory. She spent five days in intensive care, two more weeks in Christ Hospital, and is now in a rehabilitation hospital working to regain her strength and her full cognitive functions.

West Nile Virus is alive and well in greater Cincinnati. Contrary to your headline, I would run from it in any way available to me. The probability of being infected may be low, but if you get it the results can be disastrous, especially if you're a senior citizen.

Roger W. Honebrink Wyoming

Covington needs to rethink its priorities

Let me get this straight. Cities like Covington are searching for ways to keep them viable. They need to replace the businesses that have fled to the suburbs. So they get grants to developers who do projects like the Ice House on Scott Street. Fine.

But they want to take an existing business, one that has been in Covington for years, one whose employees pay payroll taxes and destroy the building, with minimal recompense, and a pitiful relocation allowance - all to make parking for a building that has yet to generate a single cent for the city.

The city has built the Midtown Parking Garage less than 800 feet from the Ice House. There are posters all over Covington advertising "Thursday Nights on the Town" that encourage people to use this garage for businesses that are five or six blocks away.

Why don't they leave Covington Paper alone, and stick to using the existing garage? This is exactly the kind of treatment that encourages business to flee.

Norman Martin, Covington

Thumbs down: Disrupters
Unfair gas taxes, aging interstates
Thumbs up: Blues Fest
Readers' Views