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January 07, 2009 07:32 AM UTC

Gas Tax Conundrum

  • 11 Comments
  • by: droll

So it isn’t Colorado, but it’s a problem we share.  In an effort to better tax road use, rather than gas use,

Oregon wants to put a GPS tracking system
 in new cars to track mileage and where you’re racking it up.  I understand that the road use is a serious issue (in Oregon gas tax revenue is down $4.8 million a year compared with 2006), but is tracking every movement the only way to go?

The only idea I came up with off the top of my head is to get rid of the gas tax and hire a guy to stand in the DMV’s parking lot to check mileage, certify the mileage and send you in to pay for your part of the road.  Maybe not perfect, could be dumb, but not as creepy as the government being able to follow you around.

Comments

11 thoughts on “Gas Tax Conundrum

  1. What’s wrong with the gas tax? It encourages people to drive less and/or to drive more fuel-efficient cars. And it seems to be working, as gas tax revenues are down. That by itself should be a good thing.

    If you institute a “sin tax” expecting a steady stream of revenue out of it, you’re doing it wrong.

    1. The problem with relying on the gas tax for a revenue stream is it is dropping in relation to the number of drivers and the deteriorating condition of existing roads and structures.

      As cars become more efficient and drivers are driving fewer miles the revenues drop. The future is for continuing lower revenue from the gas tax.  To maintain safe roads, and as far as I can tell we will be dependent on roads for the foreseeable future for movement of people and goods, there needs to be some funding mechanism, whether it be by one or more taxes or fees.  

      Creating new cities and redeveloping existing cities allows for the use of smart growth prinicples.  Those principles have a goal to reduce reliance on individual vehicles for travel, but it will by decades before a goal like that is fulfilled.  

      So for now, maintaining roads in Colorado will be a political battle between those who will spend the money and those who will obstruct the necessary repairs and rebuilding for political ideologies.

    2. It’s true that I wasn’t able to find the yearly mileage to make a less driving/more efficient car comparison.  But let’s just consider hybrids, we’ll use the Civic.  If you have a traditional Civic and your neighbor has a hybrid, it’s basically the same car, same weight, maybe slightly smaller tires on the hybrid.  They’re doing the same amount of damage to the road, right?  The hybrid gets something like 10 mpg more, so they pay less to keep the roads up, even though they’re using them the same amount.

      I understand your point about conservation and the environment in general, but Pam’s right about the road problem.  They’re really two totally different issues.  That’s the trick of course, how to solve the daunting road problem, while providing incentive to conserve.

      1. Gas is too cheap right now anyway. And besides, nobody says people should pay exactly for what they use. All sorts of things are subsidized, not necessarily by their direct users. Considering the cost of collecting this tax, and the intrusiveness, I can’t imagine it being worthwhile.

        1. Also agree with raising the tax when gas hits certain lows.  $1.31 yesterday, I’d have paid $2 to have better than a C+ rating.

          Eventually this is going to have to be dealt with.  Say in 20 years all cars are electric and all trucks are at the very least hybrid, the money has to come from somewhere.  Maybe a more direct collection mixed into the general fund?

          1. had to drive my wife back from the hospital after minor surgery. (She’s fine.) And I realized that gas is too damn cheap, there are way too many drivers on the road.

            The only way the problem in 20 years will be “too many hybrids” is if we institute a significant gas tax.

            1. There are always too many drivers on the road when I want to drive somewhere.  They need to give me all the road, all the time.  Imagine no more traffic jams, no more idiots playing bumper cars.  Ahh. I like that.

              1. but it was kind of an emergency today.

                The problem is that even if I take public transportation, my bus has to share the road with way too many drivers.

                It’s like a tax on riders of public transit.

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