California Roads Bill May Be The Future Of US Road Funding
California electric vehicle drivers may pay $100 more in registration fees each year under a proposed bill that aims to raise $3.6 billion each year through gas taxes and fees that would repair and maintain California’s roads, according to the Associated Press (via Autoblog).
The proposed fees would be a sweeping reform to transportation funding that would increase California’s gas taxes by $0.10 per gallon, add $35 to vehicle registrations and increase vehicle fees by 35 percent over five years.
Already, gas and oil companies are lining up against the proposal.
California Governor Jerry Brown reportedly struck the deal to help raise money for more than $100 billion in needed road improvements in the state.
Included in the bill is tying the state’s gas taxes to inflation to fight rising costs and reluctance to increase taxes. The added $100 electric vehicle registration fee would join other states such as Georgia, Colorado, Wisconsin and Virginia to recoup revenue lost at the pump to electric cars.
“The big message we got is, whatever you do, try to be fair and make everybody pay a fair share,” State Sen. Jim Beall told Capital Public Radio. “And so the one way we can do that is to spread the cost over several different fees.”
California's new taxes are not the future of road funding. States have relatively weak taxing-power compared to the Federal Government, since states cannot easily retain residents who don't want to pay the tax. Also, small states have trouble increasing fuel tax revenue because motorists can drive across the entire state without purchasing fuel. The future of road funding is turning more state highways into US highways. Some of Californians problems may be attributable to the lack of US highway funding for roads west of the Rockies. Federal fuel taxes will necessarily rise, and state fuel taxes will necessarily decline. The federal government may also need to assume more responsibility for maintenance, rather than giving the money to state regulators, who often waste the money. Not saying more states won't follow California out of a panic, but it doesn't represent the future because California's taxing schemes can't sustain themselves and won't be around for the long-term.
I think motorists would be less upset about higher fuel taxes if they knew the money was actually going to be spent on roads that make their travel more efficient and comfortable. Unfortunately, about 20% of fuel taxes (nationally) get spent on mass-transit and bike trail subsidies that account for between 2 and 5% of total miles traveled. I like to bike, but it is a joke to believe that more trails are going to dramatically increase bike commuting, and higher mass-transit subsidies have not made any significant inroads in getting people out of their cars and onto a bus or train. Furthermore, all government funding transport projects pay inflated union wage levels that decrease the amount of money that actually goes into pouring concrete. Spend the money efficiently on roads and most drivers won't bitch about gas taxes.
L.A. has horrible, dilapidated freeways...especially compared to Phoenix. I think California needs to contact someone in Arizona for some better ideas. The Phoenix freeway system is quite nice.
Drivers suffer from the delusion that their fuel taxes are sufficient to pay for infrastructure. If fuel taxes were high enough for that, then they'd whine about the amount of the taxes, while missing that they got what they were wishing for. We might make some progress if we would just decouple fuel taxes from specific uses. Place fuel tax revenues into the general fund and pay for roads entirely from the general fund (or keep paying interest on them by selling bonds, as we are apt to do.) The first federal gas tax was just a source of revenue to reduce the budget deficit. (You can thank Herbert Hoover for that.) No pretense about trust funds and the rest of that nonsense.