By on May 7, 2014
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California is exploring the possibility of a voluntary Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Tax to help make up for the shortfall in highway funding that is derived from the increase in vehicle fuel efficiency.

The VMT was proposed by State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), who says that the gas tax is no longer a sufficient source of revenue for highway maintenance. Both Oregon and Washington have voluntary VMT programs, with Oregon charging 1.5 cents per mile.

The spectre of a gas tax funding shortfall was first explored by former EIC Ed Niedermeyer back in 2011. Rather than summarize Niedermeyer’s conclusions, I’d urge you to read it in full for a primer on the issue.

As it stands now, the United States has very low gas taxes relative to the rest of the world, and increasing it would be political suicide for many politicians. Americans have oriented their lifestyle towards driving long distances in big trucks and SUVs. Anyone attempting to mess with that formula is sure to have a very short political life.

The irony is that in the endless quest for fuel efficiency, gasoline consumption – and by extension, gas tax revenues – have fallen to the point where they are no longer sufficient to pay for highway maintenance and badly needed infrastructure repairs. The VMT is being proposed as an alternative in some jursidictions.

Of course, the VMT has numerous implications, including privacy concerns. The current climate is already somewhat hostile to further government intrusion, given the recent NSA spy scandal. With driving considered as one of the last activities that is largely free from data logging or excessive government oversight, the idea of tracking, via GPS technology or other methods.

Beyond that, there are likely incentives associated with a move to VMT. Will people drive less, and avoid paying the tax? Will motorists hang on to older vehicles longer, in an attempt to avoid being tracked, which in turn weakens sales of newer, fuel efficient cars? The whole thing seems like a giant Catch-22. It’s not the last we’ll hear of it.

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161 Comments on “Cash Strapped California Exploring Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax...”


  • avatar
    mcarr

    Voluntary? What exactly does that mean? I’m not sure there’s a lot of people lining up to give more money to the gov’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Brad2971

      It means they’re signing up volunteers to test out this VMT pilot project.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      If you read the second link, it explains it (I was wondering too) – people who signed up payed the VMT tax in exchange for a *refund* on documented fuel tax.

      Not sure why that’d be compelling, of course…

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      I’m sure guys like Buffet, Zuckerburg, Immelt, Page, et al who say they’d like to pay higher taxes will line up for this….right?

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      ‘Voluntary program’ means that somehow, (probably through an end of the tax year refund) you will be able to choose to pay the gas tax or the miles traveled tax. Naturally, people who think they will benefit will choose the miles traveled tax. So the pilot program will mean nothing.

      This is pointless. After 20 years since the last tax increase, it costs more money to build and maintain roads. Raise the damn tax. Depending on where you live, it would cost around 50 cents per gallon to make the system self-sufficent. If you object to tax increases on principle, sanitize the tax increase by doubling the child tax credit to $2000 or so. We[re even. Families come out ahead with one kid a lot ahead with two.

      I can think of a lot of problems with the miles traveled tax:

      1. Instead of a few dozen possible points of tax evasion and the fuel distributor level, it creates several million points of tax evasion at the individual vehicle level.

      2. Privacy.

      3. Whole new tax system replacing perfectly workable program.

      4. Partially undoes tax incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. Do we want to subsidize them or not? If not, let’s reduce or eliminate their explicit tax subsidies.

      5. Inequity. SUV and Fiat pay the same rate per mile traveled. Why? Don’t we want people to drive more fuel efficient cars?

      6. Dozens of potential new forms of evasion. See TTAC article about odometer rollbacks in new cars.

      6a. (increased administrative costs for the thousand-points-of-tax evasion.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Cost/benefit of roads are not closely tied to the amount of gasoline people buy. Gasoline excise does not adjust for inflation or rising fuel-economy.

        The current system is fundamentally flawed, and that’s why it needs constant adjustment. Raising gasoline tax by $.50 will perpetuate the cycle of dependency on bad tax policy.

  • avatar
    sebr0d1e

    so what stops them from implementing the VMT, and then down the line, ALSO raising the gas tax?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Good point.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Nothing less than committed defense ever stopped an oppressive force from doing anything, did it? Of course, they’ll raise gas taxes. That’s a given. But equally obviously, they’ll want more. Like they always do. And, as long as self described “people” keep giving it to them without a serious fight, why not? Keep robbing the drones, tell them “we’re” doing it for their good, and rely on their idiocy to carry the day our way.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        No what will stop them is the current reason why they are looking at these other taxes – the general unpopularity of the gas tax. If they could increase they would have already.

    • 0 avatar
      BC

      Neel Kashkari for governor. That will.

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    Sell new gas taxes this way:

    Dedicate it to a real highway fund that only gets spent on the interstate highway system. The money gets apportioned by a committee of civil engineers based on need. The fund gets audited each year and the results are posted on the internet for all to see. I would also show each individual project as a separate page with progress bars, contractor information, bonuses/penalties paid for work completed.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I bet if we actually put existing tax money where it belongs, we would be even more ahead.
      No point in asking for more if you can’t handle what you have.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Certainly not a bad idea, but I can’t see it happening.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Just like the Social Security fund right? It will only be used for social security payments. Then, all of a sudden, they raid the cookie jar for their pet projects and there is not enough left to pay the people.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      This. Exactly this. The statistics on how much money of gasoline taxes actually goes to road projects is depressing. Huge chunks of money goes to buses, HOT lanes, and bicycle infrastructure. The money spent for these initiatives doesn’t even come close to the percentage of their usage.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        ‘Voluntary program’ means that somehow, (probably through an end of the tax year refund) you will be able to choose to pay the gas tax or the miles traveled tax. Naturally, people who think they will benefit will choose the miles traveled tax. So the pilot program will mean nothing.

        This is pointless. After 20 years it costs more money to build and maintain roads. Raise the damn tax. Depending on where you live, it would cost around 50 cents per gallon to make the system self-sufficent.

        I can think of a lot of problems with the miles traveled tax:

        1. Instead of a few dozen possible points of tax evasion and the fuel distributor level, it creates several million points of tax evasion at the individual vehicle level.

        2. Privacy.

        3. Whole new tax system replacing perfectly workable program.

        4. Partially undoes tax incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. Do we want to subsidize them or not? If not, let’s reduce or eliminate their explicit tax subsidies.

        5. Inequity. SUV and Fiat pay the same rate per mile traveled. Why? Don’t we want people to drive more fuel efficient cars?

        6. Dozens of potential new forms of evasion. See TTAC article about odometer rollbacks in new cars.

        6a. (increased administrative costs for the thousand-points-of-tax evasion.

        Nope. Cars are hugely subsidized. 40-50 cents per gallon. How could it be otherwise with twenty years and no tax increase at the federal level?

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      So how much is the audit going to cost each year? The civil engineers are going to be appointed by who and would they know the needs going forward? Not to be harsh but this type of thing is why the gas tax has not been updated even though inflation has hammered the buying power. Sometimes a bus/rail system is the best use of money. There is only so much land for roads.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    This will surely spread to the rest of the country, as cars use less and less gas, they either have to increase the tax on gas or set up this convoluted system which will hurt those who drive most even though they have the most frugal cars vs those wealthy who don’t drive a lot, but their cars use a lot more fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      I suppose I applaud your effort to stick to the party line, but no, this isn’t one of those problems that can be blamed on “the wealthy”. A Bentley doesn’t get sufficiently worse real-world mileage than an Elantra to make the disparity make sense. And besides, it’s not the poor who can afford to buy new, more frugal (or electric) vehicles to save on gas in the first place.

  • avatar
    jmo

    In California’s defense, it now has a multi billion dollar budget surplus. Far from cash strapped, its actually rather flush.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I was wondering if anyone actually fell for that cash-based budgeting scam.

    • 0 avatar
      Brad2971

      As a matter of principle, I will not call states that are dependent upon Facebook/Google shareholders paying cap gains tax on sold shares “rather flush.” Especially since that cap gains money is not designed to sustain Caltrans’ budget.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Yep, that’s what happens when Governor Gandpa Simpson Brown doesn’t take debt or borrowing into account. A “budget surplus”, lol.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      This is complete bunk. Brown did a rather shell game accounting change that showed a surplus when in reality…it is in huge debt.
      And if the link doesn’t help you…there are dozens more …

      http://www.capoliticalreview.com/top-stories/jerry-browns-fake-surplus/

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You guys really need to develop a better relationship with your friends at Google, so that you can place data into context.

        In terms of pension underfunding, California ranked 32nd. California’s underfunding ratio isn’t much different from that of Texas.

        Of the ten states with the worst underfunding ratios, six of them can be described as “red” (Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Kansas, Indiana.)

        http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst/most-underfunded-pension-plans-states

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          Of course the worst state is a blue state, but who’s counting, right?

          The chart you linked to doesn’t show the raw numbers.

          It would be telling to see how deep in the red all the states are with the actual unfunded or underfunded liabilities they’re carrying and what they’re doing to reverse that trend.

          Here in CA, they’re responding by having the governor ask for billions to build a high speed rail between LA and SF. Imagine the surprise he got when the private funding he was hoping for never materialized.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Thanks for the selective reasoning. (This seems to be the norm for you.)

            Here’s a bit to get your started:

            Underfunded obligations per capita, 2012 -

            California: $3587
            Alaska: $10235
            Kentucky: $4983
            Mississippi: $4983
            Louisiana: $4161
            Kansas: $3650
            Indiana: $2415

            http://etf.wi.gov/news/morningstar-report2013.pdf

            It’s fortunate that California isn’t performing like the worst of the red states, otherwise it would be in even deeper.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            It’s never a good exchange with pch unless he/she gets feathers ruffled.

            I referenced the data from the chart in your link, or did I misread that IL topped the list that you provided?

            Timely debate as our own LA Times had an article about this issue today.

            http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-california-budget-debt-20140507-story.html

            Although I’m not sure what there is to debate. According to our own Legislative Analyst Office, the state is $340 billion deep in unfunded liabilities. How do those other states compare?

            Try to focus on my question.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The point remains is that defined benefit pensions are costly in both the private and public sector.

            Compared to other states, California is fair to middling in that regard. You can’t possibly claim to understand what is happening in one state if you have no clue about what’s going on in the other 49.

            The double standards are annoying. I seriously doubt that you’re going to post any internet tirades about the fiscally irresponsible Alaskans, as that wouldn’t fit into your preconceived political agenda. You don’t really care about budget deficits or underfunded pensions at all, you just want to whine about liberals.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            “According to our own Legislative Analyst Office, the state is $340 billion deep in unfunded liabilities. How do those other states compare?”

            I’m not sure why you are struggling with this question other than the facts don’t support your opinion.

            Keep pounding the table and hurling jabs if you like, but it won’t change the facts. Your ideology appears to be preventing you from seeing the data.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I would hope that somebody who cares about facts would make some effort to understand what they mean.

            Alaska and Kansas also fail to meet your high standards for good governance, yet you have nothing at all to say about them. I’ve already pointed why you’re fixating on only some blemishes while you work overtime to ignore the rest — in your world, the red states get a pass.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            I’m working overtime? It’s on the front page of the LA Times – it took a few seconds to find it. Moreover, since I live here, I have skin in the game here where I don’t in the other 49 states, regardless of their political leanings.

            Sorry that I’m coming across as single minded to you with regard to our state’s finances, but maybe you should think more about your own self inflicted political wounds than worry about what other people believe, especially when they cause you to not see the facts.

            By the way, you still haven’t answered my question.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I provided a link to a Morningstar report that lists the underfunded public pension liabilities for all 50 states.

            I was kind enough to list several of the per capita figures.

            Aside from proving that you can’t understand links that are provided to you, this is looking pretty pointless.

            And in any case, it’s quite clear that only blue states are ever going to end up on your target list. You have an obvious agenda, and the truth ain’t on it (which is ironic, given the name of this website.)

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            I would agree with you. It is a pointless endeavor to repeat the same question multiple times and have the other party attempt to invalidate the question because the facts don’t support that person’s view of the world.

            It’s just disappointing – when confronted with facts that are contrary to your viewpoint, you became antagonistic and attempted to ignore the data and thereby deny reason.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is hilarious.

            You asked, “How do those other states compare?”

            I provided a report from Morningstar which lists the obligations for all 50 states.

            Yet you claim that your question was not answered, even though it obviously has been addressed in the Morningstar report.

            Is the link to the PDF file not working in your browser, are you too lazy to open the document or do the big words in the document confuse you?

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            You’re right. I should have been more specific with my question. I cited the article from the LA Times that discussed a $340 billion unfunded liability. I would have thought you would understand this when I used the phrase “raw numbers”, but I guess I didn’t do a good job explaining that.

            When I asked how other states compared, my question was specific in asking about the size of the dollar liability and comparing that to other states.

            The links you provided didn’t address this, hence my responses. For example, the link covering the state with the highest ratio, IL, had a $100 billion unfunded liability, but didn’t mention other states except for displaying debt ratios.

            Now that I have more fully explained my question, do you have the data, or do you want another round of attempting to ridicule the question?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The unfunded liabilities are listed in the Morningstar report. The reason that the report was generated was to provide that information.

            Apparently, the big words confused you. Unfortunately, Morningstar only provides data, not reading lessons.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Ah, never mind. I see it’s at the bottom of the Morningstar report. I didn’t scroll all the way down. My bad.

            There is something odd about this Morningstar report, though. They reported $131 billion in underfunded liabilities in 2012, but the state’s LAO report today the underfunded liabilities total is somehow $209 billion more.

            How does CA’s underfunded liabilities go from $131 billon to $340 billion in 2 years? Where did Morningstar get this data?

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Maybe Morningstar can explain where their data came from. You seem very loyal to defending that data, so I’ll look forward to hearing you explain how there is a more than doubling of the underfunded liabilities in less than 2 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            All over America, there are people getting root canals that were faster and less painful than this.

            Sadly, underfunded pension liabilities have a nasty habit of getting larger, particularly as the obligations grow more quickly than the underlying value of the assets.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      jmo,

      I so wish folks like you did just a quick Google to search to see if you’re correct or not. Let me show you what I mean:

      http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_24998205/californias-wall-debt-is-only-slice-its-liability

      http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/Nov/21/lao-ignores-states-massive-pension-liabilities/

      Moreover, if the state is doing well, why is this being reported on the state Controller’s website for March 2014:

      “The State ended the month with a General Fund cash deficit of $16.7 billion, which was covered with both internal and external borrowing. That figure was up from last year, when the State faced a cash deficit of $15.2 billion at the end of March 2013.”

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      Jerry Brown’s state surplus is almost as good a lie as Bill Clinton’s federal surplus.

      When a state’s (or nation’s) total debt decreases from one year to the next..THEN you can call it a surplus.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        I’ll call it a surplus when that state can pay off ALL its debts and have money left over.

        Reducing debt is being on the right track. Let a politician call that a surplus, and they’ll make sure that the “surplus” goes away.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Redefining “surplus” to suit your whims isn’t all that helpful for those of us who already understand what it means.

        There is a difference between “deficit” and “debt.” They measure different things, and it would behoove people to know the usefulness and limitations of the terminology.

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          A surplus is the situation of having an excess of a product, or more than is needed.

          If California fit into this, why are they asking for more money? Jerry Brown “has a surplus”, meaning he has more money than California needs.

          In terms even the average Southern Californian can understand, A deficit is a measure that defines how much new debt you will be making. A debt is money that you owe. Therefore, a deficit on top of California’s debt means that the state is in hot water. Gov. Brown’s slight “surplus” means that the state is still pretty much doomed.

          Considering that you think California is just fine, I think we should stop our bailouts and let the people of California work with their surplus.

          As soon as the lazy people get back from the beach and get a job.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A deficit is derived from the income statement.

            Debt is booked on the balance sheet.

            If you want to understand money, then it really helps to know the difference between these two things.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Matador,
            You are confusing yourself. For governments, the current account surplus/deficit is simply the difference between what is collected and what is spent. If you collect more in taxes than you spend to service citizens or the debt, then you are in surplus.

            This is the standard definition which politicians of every stripe use.

            Think of your household budget as an analogy. Let’s say you take home $8,000/month, and your bills total $7,500. Then you have a surplus that month of $500. Now, you may still owe $300K on your mortgage, but you still are in surplus.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            VoGo,

            +1

            Your comment reminds me of the politicians who claim to have cut spending, when in reality they have simply reduced the spending increases initially proposed.

            It’s a lie by another name.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            @ Pch101

            It also helps to know that the income statement is closed to the balance sheet as retained earnings at the end of every period. If government assets are unchanged and national debt is rising, you can’t be in surplus.

            We’re just debiting our pension liabilities and crediting revenues. It’s fine, if your pensions are overfunded or if pensions are scheduled for major actuarial adjustment. Social Security hasn’t been reformed since 1983 so we are just shifting deficits to the future.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “If government assets are unchanged and national debt is rising, you can’t be in surplus.”

            It has already been explained why this is wrong. Surpluses and deficits are based upon receipts and expenditures, and do not include loan principal.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    So average fuel economy has increased, decreasing revenues, yet they’re still giving handouts to EV buyers.

    Just stop building so many roads that have to be taken care of, take care of what you got, its not like California’s economy has a chance of recovering to pre 09 levels. Gas tax is extremely high as it is, no need to take more money to pay for irrelevant expenses.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Makes me giggle. Like taxing smoking to the point the government depends upon the tax…yet spend millions on media buys to convince smokers to stop killing themselves.
      Go figure!

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Time to start treating government like a kid who can’t manage his allowance.

    “You want more money? Well, too bad. Stop wasting it on crap – then we’ll talk.”

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      This isn`t general revenue and spending. It is a dedicated tax going to a dedicated purpose – transport. If the tax amount (not a %) hasn`t increase din 20 years but the costs have then we know what that leads to – a shortfall.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Then make all existing gas tax revenue _exclusively_ for road and infrastructure costs _first_. Once that’s done, if there’s still a shortfall, raise the gas tax.

        Gas taxes are the least worst option for revenue as far as individual liberty is concerned: they’re entirely anonymous, entirely dependent on your own travel needs, and require no additional state personnel to administer. Raw mileage-based taxes (Current odo reading – previous year reading) is not quite as anonymous since you’re now telling the State how much you travel (“why do you need to travel 16000 miles, citizen?”) and having the State hire or subcontract out the labor to enter your vehicle to record your odometer (which then creates more clients of the State and more people whose interests are for growing taxes to feed their COLA raises and benefit packages).

        Just keep raising the gas tax until a significant plurality if not outright majority of roadgoing vehicles run on untaxed fuels, then implement the raw mileage fee as part of registration/inspection (outsourcing odo reading to service folks already able to perform inspections and issue stickers) and apply it to _all_ vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        AdamVIP

        Just like my social security tax, that they raid every so many years.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        On paper, maybe.

        But we all know money from dedicated taxes finds its way into other uses like water through a leaky roof, because spendthrifts are constantly short of funds.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        Business as usual…politicians are too blame for sure…but until citizens are willing to pay the full price for the services they demand we will continue to mortgage the future…

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I’m going to buy an extra odometer and keep my existing one just for smog and registration.

  • avatar

    One more punch to the nuts from Uncle Sam.

  • avatar
    Brad2971

    “As it stands now, the United States has very low gas taxes relative to the rest of the world, and increasing it would be political suicide for many politicians. Americans have oriented their lifestyle towards driving long distances in big trucks and SUVs. Anyone attempting to mess with that formula is sure to have a very short political life.

    The irony is that in the endless quest for fuel efficiency, gasoline consumption – and by extension, gas tax revenues – have fallen to the point where they are no longer sufficient to pay for highway maintenance and badly needed infrastructure repairs….”

    It also doesn’t help matters that the current rolling 12-month traffic volume count (2,967,814,000,000) is slightly below 2005 levels. Not to mention, that on a per-capita basis, the vehicle miles traveled is at lows last see in 1996.

    With that sort of stagnation in driving patterns, people are rightly going to call out attempts at gas-tax hikes and ask that you “show your work” vis-a-vis highway construction. These were the times for which NEPA was made.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Yep… all the exhortations to be a green, conserve, telecommute when possible and carpool are showing results. Thanks, Californians! Now bend over.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        This puts the worst gas guzzler on equal footing with the most fuel frugal vehicle.
        Just tax the fuel already.
        i would so totally opt for a 1$ /gal more in taxes if it would buy well kept high quality roads.

        • 0 avatar
          Brad2971

          Nice sentiment, as always. Doesn’t mean your fellow citizens will follow, as the vehicle miles traveled charts have been lately showing.

          These are the times in which you have to “show your work” when it comes to putting new lanes in each direction of the I-10 in the San Gabriel Valley.

        • 0 avatar
          AdamVIP

          lots of people would pay taxes if they actually got something from them. The problem is government never gives you a return on your “investment”. It always takes its own and gives the rest to its connected few.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Just raise the damn gas tax. Sheesh.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Once again, one party rule rears its ugly head.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Also, if you’re going to charge per mile, then you need to consider what kind of roads the driver is traveling. If you do most of your driving on city streets that are maintained by a municipality, those roads are paid for with property and sales taxes and there should be no additional tax on them. If you’re traveling on state highways and interstates, which are typically paid for with highway taxes, then a per mile tax would apply.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I suppose that we could just use the power of prayer to have the intelligent designer give us the roads. Since we want them but aren’t willing to pay for them, somebody else needs to step up.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Blue State Model = EPIC FAIL.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        General,

        Based on this from the CA state controller’s budget report for 3/2014, it’s hard to argue against your point:

        “The State ended the month with a General Fund cash deficit of $16.7 billion, which was covered with both internal and external borrowing. That figure was up from last year, when the State faced a cash deficit of $15.2 billion at the end of March 2013.”

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Not all blue states are like CA. CT and MA seem to do pretty well.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I think we can agree that we need roads. They are the greatest public good. We should pay for them with taxes we are already paying that are being wasted on cruel tricks like high speed rail and subsidies for rich people’s golf karts.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        We get $3 worth of road for every $2 in fuel taxes that we pay.

        And given the poor state of the infrastructure, that $3 is obviously not enough, which makes the shortfall even greater than it what it appears.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Source?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            About half of what is spent on roads is covered by fuel taxes. You can comb through federal documents to get it, but these guys have summarized it here:

            http://taxfoundation.org/article/gasoline-taxes-and-user-fees-pay-only-half-state-local-road-spending

            But not all of the fuel taxes collected go to roads, which is why my comment reflects the amount of fuel tax collected in total, not just what went directly toward roads.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          So what? Nothing is more regressive than an energy tax. If there is anything worth raiding the general fund for, it is roads. Even the Romans knew that. There are a billion other things that California and the Feds spend money on. 999,999,999 of them are less important than roads, and the other one is less important right now. Maybe we could get more bang for our buck by dropping unnecessary transportation spending on bike lanes and union organized construction companies.

    • 0 avatar
      69firebird

      I think we already “Paid for them”.
      Unfortunately,that money was gifted to the Pakistani’s,Afghanistan,Egypt,etc.
      You know…so they’d be our friends.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Declaring that fuel taxes don’t cover the roads so therefore drivers are being subsidized by income taxes from the general fund is considerably disingenuous.

      I pay 27 cents per gallon in state gas tax. In the order of 150 bucks a year. Peanuts. They could double it tomorrow and it’d still be peanuts. Doesn’t come close to covering road costs.

      This leaves out the roughly $2,000 in state sales tax on the average new car. Another $1000 and change for its next owner. Another couple hundred if it changes hands again, which a lot of them do. The $93.50 a year all three of us pay the state to register it.

      That’s close to $6,000 for the governor over 10 years, a full three quarters of which they don’t want to count because it wasn’t paid at the pump. And that still hasn’t touched the pure profit of metered street parking, the hundreds of speed and red light cameras, the traditional ticket industry on top of that, the $50 sales tax for a set of tires, ad nauseum.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Eliminate gas taxes, and replace them with income taxes.

    But if the goal is to reduce taxes, force people to pay their tax bills separately for every transaction. When people begin writing checks for $10 for the tax on every fillup, they’ll care.

    The same is true for health care – if you want to reduce health care costs, eliminate insurance. Nobody cares what that $50k procedure costs when their contribution is a $25 copay and an automatic payroll deduction.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Of course. Open heart surgery would be available for $129.95 (no ups, no extras!) if there was no insurance to pay for it. The local McHealthcare could provide Happy Surgeries that everyone could afford!

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      SCE, If employees of companies had to write checks to their local, state and fed taxing authorities for their share of the employment taxes, we’d see tax reform rather abruptly. One of the many reasons it’s impounded the way it is.

      Out of sight, out of mind. People might look at their pay stub, but that’s quite different than writing a check to the US Treasury for thousands of dollars.

      • 0 avatar
        psychoboy

        I had an employer who used to pay his new hires in cash for their first paycheck.

        He’d tell them how many hours they worked, hand them the cash for those hours at their negotiated rate (ie Minimum Wage), and then do the math and have them pay him back each of the deductions (federal, state, medicare, social security). He’d then count up their MC and SS ‘contributions’ and peel off the same amount from a roll in his pocket for his ‘contributions’.

        It was a lesson that he felt far too many kids had never learned, and he was by-god going to teach them.

        It has stuck with me ever since, and if I were to ever be in that position, I would do the same thing.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          That is brilliant.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          Careful, psychoboy, you’ll be accused of pulling that from chain emails by the self-anointed smarm meisters and tragically hip sh*tbirds.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          The automatic payroll deduction has to be one of the most powerful (evil) inventions of the 20th century. Its ugly cousins are the sales tax, gas tax, mortgage escrow, and telephone tax – all with an open pipeline to our wallets.

          And nobody cares because they’re all automatic and usually increase slowly. Our ignorance of them only widens our detachment from those who govern us, and the means by which they do it.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Does anybody remember the reasoning given by the government for the Lotto?
    I do…for the schools and to save the education of our sacred children!
    Are the education spending levels all good now? Can I ask when recently have you heard that our schools were all sooo well funded and that all was good????

    But by golly…guess what the ever brilliant hucksters did? They saw the money coming in from the lotto…so they took the money going to schools previously and spent it on other fun stuff.

    Do you REALLY think the money made from miles taxes will help solve the infrastructure budget ills?
    Please…if you do, you are an idiot. Any money saved will be happily spent elsewhere. The never ending effort to take from you will continue.
    It is what they do. They work late into the night thinking of ways to dip, double dip and dip again.

  • avatar
    stottpie

    I have a better idea.

    First, let’s define what amount needs to be fundraised.

    Then, let’s make everyone’s registration fee proportional to the weight of their car, to the fourth power, since that’s been found to be proportional to road damage caused (“Generalized Fourth Power Law” I’d link, but not sure if that’s allowed).

    Divide accordingly among registered vehicles so that the funds can be properly raised. By doing this, you heavily incent people to drive lighter weight cars.

    A 4000 pound vehicle would cost 3x more to register than a 3000 pound vehicle. A 6000 pound SUV/Full Size Truck would cost 8.6x more to register than your average 3500 pound sedan.

    Weight is how vehicle registrants cause road damage. Weight is how they should be assessed for the damages (Registration Fees). The End.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      And if I have a 10,000 lb vehicle that I drive only 1000 miles per year?

      • 0 avatar
        stottpie

        You still pay. Your 10,000 lb vehicle is destroying the roads. People driving 100,000 miles in a 3,000 lb vehicle do less damage.

        edit: since (10,000^4)/(3,000^4) ~= 123.45

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          Wait, show the math on the difference between a 10k lb vehicle driving 1000 miles vs an average car driving twice that.

          I’m asking because I don’t understand how one would factor in road damage done by those cars.

          • 0 avatar
            stottpie

            There is a rule in traffic science (not sure if that’s a real thing) that road damage caused by vehicles is proportional to the vehicle’s axle weight to the fourth power. A 10k lb vehicle would do approximately 123x the damage to the roads as a 3k lb vehicle, per mile. This is calculated by comparing the fourth power of both vehicles’ weights.

            This information is readily available, search for “Generalized Fourth Power Law”

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Which brings us back to a gas tax. Heavy vehicles that aren’t used much pay little. Light, fuel-efficient vehicles pay little. Heavy vehicle that rack up a lot of miles pay a lot. It’s not perfect, but a perfect plan would be too complicated to implement. Once there are significant numbers of electric vehicles we’ll need a new model, but for now a gas tax makes sense.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Though weight is a surprisingly small factor in fuel economy at highway speeds — an interesting nugget from the FCA presentations yesterday. So heavy vehicles still get subsidized somewhat.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I love it. Except that this would have to be a national law, or else everyone in California would have a condo in Vegas the size of a postage stamp, so they could register their Suburban out of state.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      And, you’ve just killed the trucking industry.

      Congratulations- the price of everything we use- from food to car tires- has just risen exponentially.

      I’m off to go buy a Buick Roadmaster as my next tow vehicle. I’ll make sure to overload my trailer, so I can keep prices low.

      • 0 avatar
        stottpie

        It doesn’t seem fair to you that freight, which is by far the largest damaging factor on our roads, pays the majority of road repairs?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Transportation is just one big series of subsidies. It would probably be easier to just accept that and act accordingly.

          Admittedly, one possible benefit of a weight tax would be to divert more cargo onto trains. On the other hand, we could reduce the road damage by adding axles to trailers, but we have other rules that discourage such a move (i.e. tolls that increase based upon the axle count.)

          • 0 avatar
            stottpie

            You are 100% correct about the axle count, and I should have made it more clear that I’m talking about axle load. It just so happened all my examples included 2 axles so it wasn’t a difference, however very heavy trucks typically have multiple axles, as you stated.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            What I was pointing out is that the trucks would do less damage if the trailers had more axles, but there various disincentives for doing that. If the government was smart, it would create incentives for getting replacement trailers with more axles, so that the roadway damage would be reduced.

            We also build roads to a price point, which doesn’t help. The Germans tend to spend more per mile in constructing the autobahnen than we do on interstates (they’re thicker), but their roads also require less maintenance.

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          The issue with rail is the lack of rail. I work in Wyoming, where rail is available, but not too common in our neck of the woods. On the eastern side of the state, rail is available and works well.

          I do personally think that the laws on trucking are way too restrictive. A couple driving a 40′ motorcoach can avoid CDL’s, get cheaper insurance, and not participate in IFTA.

          A guy driving a two axle straight truck (Box truck) with the same Class-7 GVW (We’ll say 30000# on both to be fair) will need a DOT number, a CDL, IFTA Agreements in some cases, log books, DOT Physical, and many other things.

          The Kenworth driver is doing this nation much more good.

          Granny will go on vacation, and will stimulate the economy. Without the Kenworth driver, she would have nothing to purchase.

          Truckers and farmers are the most crucial pieces to America working. We’re attacking both groups.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Thank you for speaking up for those who have no tongues. Or rather, we have tongues, but we always hold them because we were raised ta doo so, dontchaknoow.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        You do realize the trucking industry already pays tax based on weight to both states and the federal government…right?

        Or did you think those state tax decals on semis were just travel souvenirs?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The argument is for the tax to be calculated based upon the fourth power rule, which is nowhere close to being the case today.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            An 18 wheeler has in the order of 15,000 pounds per on the drive and trailer axles.

            If we’re going to play fourth power rules, the difference between a “light” passenger car at 1500 lbs per axle and a “heavy and wasteful” F-150 at 3000 is 1/10000th of a real truck against 1/625th.

            So either you are going to tax commercial trucking out of existence or else the passenger vehicle tax difference between the light cars that you like and the heavy ones that you don’t is going to be literally pocket change.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Good thinking, pch101… Bet you leave the balancing of your checkbook to your significant other.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “So either you are going to tax commercial trucking out of existence or else the passenger vehicle tax difference between the light cars that you like and the heavy ones that you don’t is going to be literally pocket change.”

            That is the essential problem with a weight tax of that sort: the math doesn’t work.

            It could be modified so that trucks pay a lot higher fee via some other formula, but those costs will necessarily be passed on to the end-user of the shipped goods, which doesn’t work, either.

            Ultimately, we have no choice but to subsidize the trucking industry. Transportation needs subsidies in order to work; pure pay-as-you-go just doesn’t work.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Niedermeyer was doing well until he started the Orwellian scare-mongering.

    There’s no need to track vehicles to implement a VMT scheme. Just report the odo reading on registration. Require a reading when the car changes hands or is junked.

    Not that a VMT scheme makes any sense, anyway. Vehicle mass means something to road deterioration and, except for hybrids and the pitifully few EVs on the roads, a gas tax does a good job of apportioning tax based on impact. Until there’s enough EVs on the road that EV mileage means something in a practical sense, there’s no need to worry about them (they can VMT their EV miles… just require a separate odometer for EV miles and report it at registration).

    Not bothering to distinguish between HEVs and regular gassers incents people to switch to more fuel-efficient cars.

    Just raise the tax and get on with the business at hand.

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      I have a street legal car that spends most of its time on a racetrack.

      I’m not hip on getting charged for mileage that I’m not putting on public roads. I’m already paying road tax on gas I’m not using on the roads, and I’m already paying for liability insurance I’m not using on public roads.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        What if I just swap odometers. For example:

        My 1995 LeSabre gets plates in August. I use the odometer in there until October or so. Then, I swap odometers. I use the other one until July. In August, I again switch odometers to the original one, and report my “year” of driving.

        This is what you call illegal, but hard to prove. Most people would never go to this trouble, though.

        I drive about 50,000-60,000 per year. It would be a big deal for me.

        Track my fuel purchases? I drive an F-150 offroad a lot on our farm. Sue me.

        Fuel taxes are at least something that you can’t lie like this on. They should offer dyed gasoline for off-road use, though. Of course, most people would abuse that the way red diesel is used in many a Dodge Ram with the Cummins.

        Not all of us drive on public roads all the time. And, not all of us will pay this type of tax.

        Anyone have a second cluster for a 1995 LeSabre?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    The same guv is hellbent on wasting $100 billion on a NON-high speed train from nowhere to nowhere.

    The people of CA were lied to and now they don’t want Brown’s half-baked scheme. Except the special interests.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Highway funding is just one of the many shortfalls that California is experiencing. And there isn’t enough money in California to offset the shortfalls, now or for the next hundred years (all things considered). Money obligated for future pensions, bonds, etc, is exponentially more than what can be generated in California for at least a hundred years.

      My grandson’s wife is a Deputy Sheriff for San Diego North County and the shortfalls facing their department are serious. And that is just one Sheriff’s department in California. Friends of my #2 son who still work for the CHiP told him their funding situation is dire! Why would they tell him that if it wasn’t so?

      This is not the right forum to expand on this topic but experimenting with yet a different tax on California drivers is not going to solve this. Yes, California legislators can implement this as they have done with many other taxes. And they can also watch the unintended consequences develop as the vast majority of people in California find ways to get around them.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        ‘Voluntary program’ means that somehow, (probably through an end of the tax year refund) you will be able to choose to pay the gas tax or the miles traveled tax. Naturally, people who think they will benefit will choose the miles traveled tax. So the pilot program will mean nothing.

        This is pointless. After 20 years it costs more money to build and maintain roads. Raise the damn tax. Depending on where you live, it would cost around 50 cents per gallon to make the system self-sufficent.

        I can think of a lot of problems with the miles traveled tax:

        1. Instead of a few dozen possible points of tax evasion and the fuel distributor level, it creates several million points of tax evasion at the individual vehicle level.

        2. Privacy.

        3. Whole new tax system replacing perfectly workable program.

        4. Partially undoes tax incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. Do we want to subsidize them or not? If not, let’s reduce or eliminate their explicit tax subsidies.

        5. Inequity. SUV and Fiat pay the same rate per mile traveled. Why? Don’t we want people to drive more fuel efficient cars?

        6. Dozens of potential new forms of evasion. See TTAC article about odometer rollbacks in new cars.

        6a. Increased administrative costs for the thousand-points-of-tax evasion.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          jim brewer, I think you have an excellent grasp on this situation. I could not have expressed it nearly as well as you did.

          In California, gasoline already costs at least a dollar more per gallon than just across the border in Arizona or Nevada.

          Knowing this, during my last visit to Southern California, I topped off in Quartszite, AZ, filled up 4) 5-gallon plastic gas cans, and drove into California.

          For the entire time spent in California I did not once have to fill up with gas there.

          On the way out of California, I topped off at the same gas station, this time going East. I did not fill up the gas cans because the further east I drove the lower the price of gas got.

          And I wasn’t the lone ranger either. Lots of cars and SUVs with cargo carriers on their hitch receivers heading in to California did the very same thing; many of them with California license plates!

          On the border with Mexico, California people routinely fill up in Mexico, take extra gas back into the US, and drive happily for less, for another week.

          But we have to respect that the majority of California residents voted for all the misery they are enjoying now, so I say ‘whatever works for them’.

          I have several blood relatives who live in California, and wished they could move to get away from all the madness. But they can’t. Too young to retire. Too high up on the career ladder. Or, in the case of two of my brothers, too wedded to the businesses started by their wives.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Have to love unintended consequences.

    Regulators (federal and state) pushed for stronger CAFE standards to reduce energy consumption. Auto makers are complying (sort of, reference TTAC story earlier this week) so the amount of fuel consumers are buying is down – a lot. Not just recession related, the down trend started back in 2005 with the sharp spike in the price of gasoline.

    Better MPG but same distances traveled for commuting and errands results in the same level of road wear (never mind the increasing population) while less revenue is collected because drivers are buying less gallons of gas.

    Unintended consequences.

    The sad thing is the anti-car set both in political machine and their supporters will push for this, under the banner of getting people to drive less. The working poor get hurt the most – the wealthy will just keep driving. Even less gas tax will be collected and mileage tax will decline as people work to avoid.

    The scarier thing, to go off-topic, is the proletariat cheered with the passing of Patriot Act I, and applauded with the passing of the Patriot Act II – in the name of keeping us, errr, “safe.” Now we have complete spying of our citizens by the NSA, completely trampling the Bill of Rights.

    The only way to log mileage accurately will of course be some, errr, device, akin likely to what Progressive, Allstate and USAA are offering now to track routes, mileage, access etc. What could go wrong with a government entity that knows everything you say and now, everywhere you go.

    We’re so screwed – and the masses will applaud when this is passed as a way to get those evil cars off the road, and get more people on bikes and public transit. Do not underestimate the power of the spandex mafia (Seattle is a great example of this)

    • 0 avatar
      gtrslngr

      APaGttH – I’ll bet like myself you’re a fan of the book ; ” What We’ve Lost ” And yes we are . To the number . Unless of course one is excessively wealthy and exceedingly connected/ powerful [ one without the other being worthless ] … Screwed that is by the way

      But as to the simplest and least invasive solution for a mileage tax . Simply require an annual inexpensive inspection … check the odometer … add up the miles ….. and charge the tax . Period . Problem over

      Jeeze some of y’all go for the most convoluted and complex answers to the simplest of problems

      Oh … but wait ! Even if your car is equipped with the ‘ option ‘ to have say MBrace Onstar etc … the powers that be including your local authorities and yes your insurance companies can and are already keeping tabs on your whereabouts and mileage . Regardless of whether its been activated or not . And .. if you have a TESLA S … everyone from Google Earth to the above as well as TESLA .. and right on down to some online retailers etc you’d rather didn’t know are tracking your each and every move

      Which is to say …… we’re all seriously and severely …. screwed

      Ask Volt 230 how i know all this . Hint ? Theres a reason the wife is known in and around internet circles as SG… wink wink

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Ahh, but how many of those miles were out of state? How many of those miles here on public roads versus private roads (about 10% of my daily commute is on a private road I pay for with the other 56 home owners out of our own pockets – so now I’m taxed in your model for something the public trust doesn’t provide???)

        Your system creates a whole new organization or odometer checkers. What do you do for the folks who don’t show up? What do you do for the folks who can’t show up for validation? What do you do for vehicles that have instrument cluster failures and mileage is ‘unknown.” What do you do with older cars that have odometers that only go to 199999 miles?

        I drive across the border to Canada, I still get a mileage tax? What about people in the tri-state areas of MA, CT, RI, or NY, CT and NJ, or MD, DC, and VA? What if you drive in state X you have to submit to an annual odometer check to pay a full tax even though most of your driving is in state Y?

        It’s not convoluted – your system would, in my state, punish the person that lives in Vancouver and drives to Portland to work every day. How can a state, Constitutionally speaking, collect a state tax for use of roads in another state. Good luck getting a judge to agree with that notion (at least for now).

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Well, one of the advantages of a gas tax increase that matches, or in my opinion, should slightly exceed maintenance and building costs, about 50 cents per gallon, very roughly, is that you could abolish CAFE. After all, if the user is paying 105% of the costs of new roads the guy with a Hummer is contributing to the cause. There is less need to compensate for bad roads with an inappropriately rugged vehicle, since we could afford to have well-maintained roads (See the Piston-Slap article about driving in Boston). It also means that North American cars become more exportable.

      Yes, the tax would probably have to be raised again at some point to compensate for reduced usage, even if you index it to construction costs. So what? Why is it necessary to put everything on autopilot into perpetuity?

      See the article below for an exposition of the shortfall.

      http://www.pewstates.org/research/analysis/funding-challenges-in-transportation-infrastructure-85899544774

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        A gas tax increase that is high enough to cover the costs is political suicide. A complete non-starter in the US, particularly with elements of both the right and the left opposing it.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’m all for the weight^4 * Miles at registration renewal to replace the fuel tax. If it shifts some of the now subsidized trucking volume to rail… that’s just what happens when you repair your accounting. You use the less expensive mode instead of the one subsidized by general fund spending. The gas tax gets spent on other projects? Really? Does the gas tax come close to paying for the roads, signs, lights, land use etc.? Nope. Heads out, Q-tips in.

    • 0 avatar
      gtrslngr

      I’m all in for going back to weight as sole judge of road tax burden as well . Especially in light of the fact that most EV’s and Hybrids weigh as much if not more than many a compact and mid sized SUV/CUVs .

      So yeah … lets burn the little Green Weenies where it hurts the most . Right smack dab in their back pockets . Especially in light of the fact that we helped subsidize both the development – manufacture and their purchase of said EV – Hybrids

      And heck . Then we get to burn all those full sized P/U owners who only own them to boost their egos [ and compensate for a distinct lack in the male anatomy department ] as well . Making an exception of course for those with legitimate Trade and Agriculture licenses

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        “[ and compensate for a distinct lack in the male anatomy department ]”

        How do you know? I mean, we can all make jokes about compensation, but do you have any firsthand knowledge of such personal details? Or does every pickup truck that goes by immediately remind you of that department? What would it even matter to you?

        Don’t go for the low-hanging fruit (pun absolutely not intended).

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Fine raise the tax but I want to be able to write off my ex pass bill against it since all those bridges were built many years ago and are paid off. I pay about $400 a month to drive over the great ny Nj bridges, tolls keep going up and the bridges keep getting worse. Also where can I send the bill for all the pot hole damage the roads have done to my car this winter . Spend the gas tax on what it was meant for, nothing else and then ask for more if needed but you have to show results of better roads.

  • avatar
    Hillman

    I think Virginia was brilliant in raising the sales tax and taking the new funds from the increase for the roads. The tax is now indexed for inflation there is little chance of corruption. Also, it is fair to everyone since you can’t live without using the transportation infrastructure in one way or another.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Wow.

    I just don’t understand the logic. Why doesn’t the US Federal government just increase fuel tax?

    This would be the fairest way (other than placing a tax on tyres and/or whatever interfaces with the road surface) to have an equitable system of revenue collection for miles traveled.

    I do know EVs are not taxed, but then remove EVs from the roads as they are a burden on the US economy, ie, subsidized to the hilt.

    This way you can do away with CAFE. So, if you can afford the gas for a V8 pickup and drive it who cares. If you can only afford a Corolla, who cares.

    California should then place an exise on fuel by quantity if the Feds won’t.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Because any politician that puts it on the table is politically dead.

      The right will kill them for being anti-transportation, anti-business, and anti-car, wanting to push an agenda of public transit for all.

      The left will kill them for being regressive in their taxation, arguing that a higher motor fuel taxes hurts the lower income more as they pay more tax in relation to the total of their income.

      It’s DoA.

  • avatar
    dartman

    This what happens when amateurs pretend to be journalists and look to find sensational headlines as clickbait. California is no more cash strapped than any other State when it comes to Federal Highway Trust Funds; if Congress does not pass an emergency appropriations bill (as they always Have) Texas (you know the last bastion of free-market economics and good-government) alone stands to lose $3.8 billion in funds:

    http://blog.chron.com/thehighwayman/2014/04/lot-riding-on-highway-trust-fund-for-texas-like-3-8-billion/

    If you want another good article on the ongoing crisis try this:

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/auditor-funding-shortfall-could-halt-transportation-projects-20140506

    Of course neither article will sway the average hoople-head, its all just another conspiracy by the big bad black led Gub-mint.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      This article is about the possibility of California replacing its state gas tax with a per-mile fee.

      That’s a separate issue from the federal Highway Trust Fund hitting the wall.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    Another tax and spend democrat hard at work. Another reason why Toyota is leaving commie country. I’m glad I left.

  • avatar
    AH-1WSuperCobra

    Our gov’t has an addiction to money. The roads could be fixed if they wanted to with no problem but that means there is less money for the slush funds. Both parties will use things like roads when it come election time to stir up their loyal acolytes who will parrot bumper sticker slogans. This has nothing to do with roads just like cigarette taxes aren’t there to make people stop smoking. It is so Politician X can fund his pet project.

    If pay per mile ever becomes the norm the gas tax won’t go away and every year or two the price per mile will go up. The same exact reasons will be given and the cycle will go on because cars keep getting regulated to make them heavier. That’s why the 1970 LTD I used to have with the 390 was 4045lbs and a 2014 Dart SXT is 3297.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    For those who don’t know it, California has been dumping the gas tax dollars into the general fund for years, instead of putting it into new roads. Another reason for this is all the enviro-nazi groups like the Sierra Club who can turn a $3,000,000 project into a 3 billion dollar project by tying things up in court for years. When Commiefornia gets a new lane it usually has a carpool attached making it useless for many.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      canddmeyer, but this is what the majority of Californians voted for. This is what the majority wanted.

      Speaking of carpool lanes, Phoenix, AZ, has done something very helpful for drivers with their carpool lanes on I-10. They’ve opened them up to all traffic, even with one person aboard, from 9am to 3pm, weekdays.

      I recently enjoyed smooth cruising, traversing Phoenix, coming and going. Just stayed in that far left lane and moved faster than all the other lanes. Great experience!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If you taxed my Leaf according to its MPGe, I’d pay $48/year.

    I’d do this, but will that get the leftists off my back for not paying my ‘fair share’? No, because it’s not fair enough!

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    re: “Americans have oriented their lifestyle towards driving long distances in big trucks and SUVs.”

    these americans need to reorient their ‘long-distance-driving’ lifestyles.

    times have changed. conditions have changed. awareness and understanding have increased and yet, the situation continues to deteriorate, more and more rapidly. we simply gotta get those truculent desires/lifestyles inline with the harsh new realities confronting humanity.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      philip, Americans are an ornery lot. I’m one of them and I’m not reorienting anything, anywhere, anyplace, anytime —– as long as I can still afford to pay for it.

      Hey, once the money runs out, that will have an affect, sure.

      But like most Americans, especially those silly Californians who already pay at least a dollar more per gallon of gas than the rest of the nation, I will pay whatever gas cost to be able to drive. It beats walking or sharing space with the sweaty, smelly riders of public transportation.

      ‘Long-distance-driving’ lifestyles? It is in my blood! You bet! I love driving great distances across the expanse that is America and will pay for my gas along the way. Every trip is a new adventure.

      Behavior modification of the great unwashed masses is highly unlikely. Spending more on fuel, that’s more likely.

      Who will get hurt? The places where we now spend our disposable income because we will be spending that disposable income on fuel instead of other things like eating out, the daily latte, fastfood munchies, etc etc etc.

      In my area alone, since the start of the Great Recession, we lost two DQs, a Golden Corral, three Coffee Houses, a Popeye’s, a Pizza Hut, a Domino’s, a Thai restaurant, a Sushi bar, two Chinese restaurants and probably more I can’t remember since the above were the places I frequented regularly with my wife and family.

      These were thriving businesses until people started to spend more of their money on fuel. Guess what? The people still spend their money on fuel. They just quit spending it at places like those listed above.

      • 0 avatar
        philipwitak

        cat – the free market will eventually solve this particular part of the problem for all of us, once critical mass is reached and we begin paying prices similar to those charged in europe. those who remain able – and willing – may elect to continue spending more of their money for transport than is necessary; and continue to damage the environment much more than is desirable in the process; but hey, this sort of behavior appears to be ‘the american way’ in far too many instances, for far too many people.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          philip, but will paying prices similar to those charged in Europe work for the US economy?

          The US is an energy-rich nation, in many cases an energy exporter. The last time the price of fuel skyrocketed, the economy nearly collapsed.

          I’m a gasoholic. I’ll pay whatever it costs just to remain mobile. One reason is because I have to. I live 26 miles from the nearest gas station. Yet MOST Americans may complain about the price of gas, yet they’ll pay it, instead of cutting back on the use of gas.

          It is true that the current administration is massively behind the effort to electrify our modes of transportation based on ideology. But if Hilary gets elected in 2016, I believe she will govern more along the lines of long-time Arkansas governor and two-term president Bill Clinton.

          And Bill Clinton’s economic policies were pretty darn good. Between Bill Clinton and Shrub, I did extremely well, made tons of money, and got to keep the vast majority of it. For me it was like riding a financial surfboard on a never-ending crested wave, as I remember doing at my parental home in Huntington Beach, CA, where I grew up.

          After O**** was elected, things changed. People were scared. Held on to their money. Stashed it away. Quit buying — even people who had money.

          But through it all, no matter the price of gas, people made sure their tanks were filled in case they had to go places. And it spite of the current administration’s best efforts, oil drilling on private lands has increased to where America can now ship refined gasoline to Canada and Europe as an energy exporter.

          So to me all this reeks of political interference because gasoline and other petroleum fuels should not be this expensive because we have an overabundance of oil and natural resources.

          The next administration may do what is best for America just the way that Bill Clinton and Shrub did. And if they do, watch the US economy explode, like it did under Ronald Reagan.


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