Just a few months after implementing a massive 60% hike in gasoline taxes, raising them from $0.297 per gallon to $0.417, the state of California is now one step closer to implementing a brand new tax that would charge drivers for each mile driven.
As a quick example of how shockingly misguided such a piece of legislation would be, the logical conclusion here is that poor people who have been forced out of cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego due to rising rents would now be forced to incur yet another massive tax for simply commuting into city centers to do their jobs...in essence, in many cases, it would serve as a regressive tax on the poorest families...
So how did we get here? It all started back in 2014 when California passed Senate Bill 1077 calling for a mileage tax. The bill kicked off the California Road Charge Pilot Program which sought to design and test various strategies for implementing a mileage tax.
Now, after 3 full years of studying various methodologies for tracking mileage, from requiring a "plug-in" for each vehicle to tracking your smart phone movements to more manual systems that would track odometers, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), according to a newly filed report is officially ready to declare a mileage tax 'feasible'. Here's what they found:
The Road Charge Pilot Program successfully tested the functionality, complexity, and feasibility of the critical elements of this new potential revenue system - road charge - for transportation funding.
- Manual options provide the highest degree of privacy and data security, but will in all likelihood be the most difficult to enforce, and could be costly to administer
- Plug-in devices are the most reliable options, however as new technology emerges this methodology could be obsolete by the time a road charge program is adopted
- More technologically advanced methods, such as the smartphone application with location services and the in-vehicle telematics show great promise, but need further refinement
Of course, as State Senator Scott Wiener points out, a mileage tax will be a huge blow to all the folks that have been coaxed into electric vehicles over the years by tax subsidies which made them more affordable. While those folks have been able to avoid gasoline taxes, part of the calculus that supposedly makes them "affordable", they won't be able to avoid a mileage tax. Per CBS:
But it’s not just a question about money, it’s also a question about fairness.
State Senator Scott Wiener and others are saying that when it comes to road taxes, it’s time to start looking at charging you by the mile rather than by the gallon.
“If you own an older vehicle that is fueled by gas, you’re paying gas tax to maintain the roads. Someone who has an electric vehicle or a dramatically more fuel efficient vehicle is paying much less than you are. But they are still using the roads,” Wiener said.
“People are going to use less and less gas in the long run,” according to Wiener.
And less gas means less gas tax, and less money for road repair.
“We want to make sure that all cars are paying to maintain the roads,” Wiener said.
Yet another reason for California residents to promptly consider a move to Texas...