TITLE: File Under Things Which Enrage Me Things That Make Me Want To Bash My Head Against A Wall and Yell "No! No! No!"
DATE: 12/02/2004 08:07:00 AM
LOS ANGELES -- Tax motorists based on the number of miles they drive?
The concept is gaining currency among the think-outside-the-box crowd as a way to bolster sagging transportation coffers while eliminating the politically unpopular tax on gasoline.
On its face, the tax seems simple: If you track where people go, you can charge them for their use of the roads, and funnel that money to build and repair streets and highways. Some supporters even envision a time when global positioning systems would be used to manage traffic, signaling to a state databank when a motorist was driving at rush hour, and charging that person more than drivers who travel off-peak hours.
It would work by linking up the tracking device with the car's odometer. When a driver goes to fill up the tank, the fees would be added to the price of gas.
Supporters, whose ranks include academics, urban planners, and many transportation leaders, say the tax on gasoline has not kept up with inflation. The tax has been stuck at $0.18 per gallon in California since 1994, and the additional federal tax is also about $0.18. And as cars and trucks become more fuel-efficient, it could become more difficult to collect enough money to keep up with road construction costs.
The mileage tax would be more of a direct user fee, said Elizabeth Deakin, professor and director of the University of California Transportation Center, a statewide program. People who drive more, she said, would be taxed more, and the money could go to building and repairing roads.
"It's a Big Brother thing," said Scott McNatt, 46. "Everybody is going to have a monitor in their car." (Los Angeles Times, reprinted in the Globe)
Car use tax worth eyeing, official says
The state transportation secretary said yesterday that taxing drivers based on how much they use their cars, to supplement the gas tax that helps pay for highway projects, is an experiment worth a look in Massachusetts.
Daniel A. Grabauskas made the remarks while speaking to a new Beacon Hill commission looking at alternative ways to pay for transportation projects.
But Jon Carlisle, spokesman for the Executive Office of Transportation, immediately backed away from the comments, saying a mileage-based tax "was not in any way under active consideration."
Grabauskas was asked about a new system for taxing drivers, using global positioning technology to keep track of how much individual cars are used, that Oregon plans to test next year and that officials in California and Washington state are also considering.
Grabauskas merely responded by saying that all new ideas should be considered, Carlisle said.
"It was an offhand comment during a brainstorming session," he said.
Governor Mitt Romney, who appointed Grabauskas, is opposed to any increase in taxes or new taxes, and has been on record opposing any increase in the gas tax, which was proposed in Congress earlier this year as a way to bolster federal funding for highway projects. (Globe)