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WSJ: Fuel-Efficient Cars Dent States' Road Budgets

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  • Patrick Wong
    From yesterday s WSJ. This topic is important to Prius owners because you currently pay gasoline tax on a per gallon basis. Oregon is a state that is
    Message 1 of 11 , Apr 26, 2007
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      From yesterday's WSJ. This topic is important to Prius owners
      because you currently pay gasoline tax on a per gallon basis.
      Oregon is a state that is considering charging taxes based upon
      miles driven, which could result in Prius owners paying 2x or more
      in these taxes, compared to the current gas tax.

      Patrick Wong

      http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB117745992219081291.html

      Fuel-Efficient Cars Dent
      States' Road Budgets
      By ROBERT GUY MATTHEWS
      April 25, 2007; Page B1

      Cars and trucks are getting more fuel-efficient, and that's good
      news for drivers. But it's a headache for state highway officials,
      who depend on gasoline taxes to build and maintain roads.

      The Federal Highway Administration estimates that by 2009 the tax
      receipts that make up most of the federal highway trust fund will be
      $21 billion shy of what's needed just to maintain existing roads,
      much less build new roads or add capacity. Trying to compensate for
      highway-budget shortfalls, a handful of states are exploring other,
      potentially more lucrative ways to raise highway money.

      "In 10 years, we are going to be in an intolerable financial
      position, and we need to start fixing it now before the problem
      starts," says James Whitty, manager of an alternative funding
      project in the Oregon transportation department.

      In a year-long pilot program overseen by Mr. Whitty, the cars of 260
      volunteers were outfitted with Global Positioning Systems and
      electronic odometers that recorded the number of miles driven. The
      drivers bought gasoline at specially equipped service stations,
      where computers on the pumps subtracted the 24-cents-a-gallon
      gasoline tax and added a 1.2 cent fee for every mile driven.

      The pilot program ended last month. State officials are reviewing
      the results to determine whether the system would raise more revenue
      than the gasoline tax. The initiative likely will be revived and
      expanded when a few bugs are worked out, says Mr. Whitty.

      If the program is fully implemented at some point, Oregon would
      likely have to keep dual tax methods. Out-of-state drivers, whose
      cars wouldn't be equipped with the required mileage devices, would
      continue to pay the gas tax, while Oregon drivers would be switched
      to the mileage-based fee.

      <snip>
    • Paul Lawler
      ... A few bugs? That could be the understatement of the year... retrofitting all gas pumps as well as any vehicle owned or purchased by an Oregon resident
      Message 2 of 11 , Apr 26, 2007
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        On Apr 26, 2007, at 7:04, Patrick Wong wrote:

        > The pilot program ended last month. State officials are reviewing
        > the results to determine whether the system would raise more revenue
        > than the gasoline tax. The initiative likely will be revived and
        > expanded when a few bugs are worked out, says Mr. Whitty.

        A few bugs? That could be the understatement of the year...
        retrofitting all gas pumps as well as any vehicle owned or purchased
        by an Oregon resident would be outrageously expensive. And of course
        this plan still doesn't solve the problem of how to tax private pumps
        (e.g. farms) or those who brew their own biodiesel.

        Having said that, the tax plan itself is not inherently unfair, even
        if Prius owners end up paying more than they do currently. Contrary
        to popular opinion on many Prius groups, I don't buy the idea that
        Prius owners are entitled to special treatment because they made the
        "green" choice. Under this plan, they will only be paying for the
        roads when they use them.
      • Scott Snadow
        ... Miles driven has some merit, but it should also include a factor based on the weight of the vehicle. Otherwise a 100 mile trip in a Honda Insight will be
        Message 3 of 11 , Apr 26, 2007
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          Patrick Wong wrote:
          > >From yesterday's WSJ. This topic is important to Prius owners
          > because you currently pay gasoline tax on a per gallon basis.
          > Oregon is a state that is considering charging taxes based upon
          > miles driven, which could result in Prius owners paying 2x or more
          > in these taxes, compared to the current gas tax.
          >

          Miles driven has some merit, but it should also include a factor based
          on the weight of the vehicle. Otherwise a 100 mile trip in a Honda
          Insight will be taxed identically to a 100 mile trip in a Hummer. Which
          of those do you think will cause more wear-and-tear on the roadway?

          Scott
        • Terry .
          I would guess it would also depend on the individual state. I recall hearing that here in CA, the GA$ tax is not specifically held solely for highways but
          Message 4 of 11 , Apr 26, 2007
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            I would guess it would also depend on the individual state. I recall
            hearing that here in CA, the GA$ tax is not specifically held solely
            for highways but goes into the 'General Fund' from which highway money
            is then appropriated out of. That is the reason the majority of our
            highways here are in such bad shape; that tax $$$ gets siphoned-off to
            other pork-barrel projects.
          • David Kelly
            ... Nothing new here. I remember 20 to 30 years ago when the cry was conserve electricity! TV stations aired endless free public service commercials,
            Message 5 of 11 , Apr 26, 2007
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              On Apr 26, 2007, at 12:04 PM, Patrick Wong wrote:

              > From yesterday's WSJ. This topic is important to Prius owners
              > because you currently pay gasoline tax on a per gallon basis.
              > Oregon is a state that is considering charging taxes based upon
              > miles driven, which could result in Prius owners paying 2x or more
              > in these taxes, compared to the current gas tax.

              Nothing new here. I remember 20 to 30 years ago when the cry was
              "conserve electricity!" TV stations aired endless free public service
              commercials, billboards, presentations in schools, etc. And people
              cut back on electricity consumption. Then the utilities cried to the
              PSC, "We're not selling enough electricity, must raise rates to
              compensate."

              Either raise rates to fund new power plants, or raise rates to have
              enough funds to keep the existing investment sound.

              Very little of the cost of electricity is an incremental cost. Most
              is the time value of money for the investment in infrastructure.

              Once Upon A Time fuel taxes were primarily used to fund roads. If
              that was still the case California wouldn't need HOV lanes, they'd
              have enough roads to do without.

              --
              David Kelly <dkelly@...>
              ========================================================================
              Woods riders love trees more than environmentalists. Proof?
              Environmentalists hug trees.
              Woods riders dance with trees and stop for an occasional kiss. Ouch!
            • Tom M
              This is a little late but frankly I would have no problem being taxed on the number of miles driven as long as there is some kind of multiplier for vehicle
              Message 6 of 11 , May 1, 2007
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                This is a little late but frankly I would have no
                problem being taxed on the number of miles driven as
                long as there is some kind of multiplier for vehicle
                weight, type of fuel used, a polution factor, etc.

                IMHO, there should be a major increase in gasoline
                taxes ($1 or $2 per gallon) that is invested in
                rebuilding the public transit infrastructure that GM,
                Ford and the oil companies targeted for destruction
                following WW-II.

                Tom

                --- Patrick Wong <patwong3@...> wrote:

                > From yesterday's WSJ. This topic is important to
                > Prius owners
                > because you currently pay gasoline tax on a per
                > gallon basis.
                > Oregon is a state that is considering charging taxes
                > based upon
                > miles driven, which could result in Prius owners
                > paying 2x or more
                > in these taxes, compared to the current gas tax.
                >
                > Patrick Wong
                >
                >
                http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB117745992219081291.html
                >
                > Fuel-Efficient Cars Dent
                > States' Road Budgets
                > By ROBERT GUY MATTHEWS
                > April 25, 2007; Page B1
                >
                > Cars and trucks are getting more fuel-efficient, and
                > that's good
                > news for drivers. But it's a headache for state
                > highway officials,
                > who depend on gasoline taxes to build and maintain
                > roads.
                >
                > The Federal Highway Administration estimates that by
                > 2009 the tax
                > receipts that make up most of the federal highway
                > trust fund will be
                > $21 billion shy of what's needed just to maintain
                > existing roads,
                > much less build new roads or add capacity. Trying to
                > compensate for
                > highway-budget shortfalls, a handful of states are
                > exploring other,
                > potentially more lucrative ways to raise highway
                > money.
                >
                > "In 10 years, we are going to be in an intolerable
                > financial
                > position, and we need to start fixing it now before
                > the problem
                > starts," says James Whitty, manager of an
                > alternative funding
                > project in the Oregon transportation department.
                >
                > In a year-long pilot program overseen by Mr. Whitty,
                > the cars of 260
                > volunteers were outfitted with Global Positioning
                > Systems and
                > electronic odometers that recorded the number of
                > miles driven. The
                > drivers bought gasoline at specially equipped
                > service stations,
                > where computers on the pumps subtracted the
                > 24-cents-a-gallon
                > gasoline tax and added a 1.2 cent fee for every mile
                > driven.
                >
                > The pilot program ended last month. State officials
                > are reviewing
                > the results to determine whether the system would
                > raise more revenue
                > than the gasoline tax. The initiative likely will be
                > revived and
                > expanded when a few bugs are worked out, says Mr.
                > Whitty.
                >
                > If the program is fully implemented at some point,
                > Oregon would
                > likely have to keep dual tax methods. Out-of-state
                > drivers, whose
                > cars wouldn't be equipped with the required mileage
                > devices, would
                > continue to pay the gas tax, while Oregon drivers
                > would be switched
                > to the mileage-based fee.
                >
                > <snip>
                >
                >
                >


                ----------------------------------------------------------

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              • docaaron1
                If you read articles on the high price of gasoline, they say that gasoline usage is at all time highs. States putting up any argument that hybrid cars are
                Message 7 of 11 , May 1, 2007
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                  If you read articles on the high price of gasoline, they say that
                  gasoline usage is at all time highs. States putting up any argument
                  that hybrid cars are reducing their road budgets is pure BS! When the
                  price of gas starts falling like a rock that's when I'll believe that
                  our hybrids are causing a short fall in road funds. Until then they
                  can stick their road use tax up their tailpipe.

                  Aaron
                • Gary Owens
                  Any increase in the gas tax will just end up in the general fund, or they use the slide of hand, and rob from 1 area and give to the general fund, where all
                  Message 8 of 11 , May 1, 2007
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                    Any increase in the gas tax will just end up in the general fund, or they
                    use the slide of hand, and rob from 1 area and give to the general fund,
                    where all the pork come from.

                    gary Owens

                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "Tom M" <ca_sideliner@...>
                    To: <toyota-prius@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 1:01 PM
                    Subject: Re: [toyota-prius] WSJ: Fuel-Efficient Cars Dent States' Road
                    Budgets


                    > This is a little late but frankly I would have no
                    > problem being taxed on the number of miles driven as
                    > long as there is some kind of multiplier for vehicle
                    > weight, type of fuel used, a polution factor, etc.
                    >
                    > IMHO, there should be a major increase in gasoline
                    > taxes ($1 or $2 per gallon) that is invested in
                    > rebuilding the public transit infrastructure that GM,
                    > Ford and the oil companies targeted for destruction
                    > following WW-II.
                    >
                    > Tom
                    >
                    > --- Patrick Wong <patwong3@...> wrote:
                    >
                    >> From yesterday's WSJ. This topic is important to
                    >> Prius owners
                    >> because you currently pay gasoline tax on a per
                    >> gallon basis.
                    >> Oregon is a state that is considering charging taxes
                    >> based upon
                    >> miles driven, which could result in Prius owners
                    >> paying 2x or more
                    >> in these taxes, compared to the current gas tax.
                    >>
                    >> Patrick Wong
                    >>
                    >>
                    > http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB117745992219081291.html
                    >>
                    >> Fuel-Efficient Cars Dent
                    >> States' Road Budgets
                    >> By ROBERT GUY MATTHEWS
                    >> April 25, 2007; Page B1
                    >>
                    >> Cars and trucks are getting more fuel-efficient, and
                    >> that's good
                    >> news for drivers. But it's a headache for state
                    >> highway officials,
                    >> who depend on gasoline taxes to build and maintain
                    >> roads.
                    >>
                    >> The Federal Highway Administration estimates that by
                    >> 2009 the tax
                    >> receipts that make up most of the federal highway
                    >> trust fund will be
                    >> $21 billion shy of what's needed just to maintain
                    >> existing roads,
                    >> much less build new roads or add capacity. Trying to
                    >> compensate for
                    >> highway-budget shortfalls, a handful of states are
                    >> exploring other,
                    >> potentially more lucrative ways to raise highway
                    >> money.
                    >>
                    >> "In 10 years, we are going to be in an intolerable
                    >> financial
                    >> position, and we need to start fixing it now before
                    >> the problem
                    >> starts," says James Whitty, manager of an
                    >> alternative funding
                    >> project in the Oregon transportation department.
                    >>
                    >> In a year-long pilot program overseen by Mr. Whitty,
                    >> the cars of 260
                    >> volunteers were outfitted with Global Positioning
                    >> Systems and
                    >> electronic odometers that recorded the number of
                    >> miles driven. The
                    >> drivers bought gasoline at specially equipped
                    >> service stations,
                    >> where computers on the pumps subtracted the
                    >> 24-cents-a-gallon
                    >> gasoline tax and added a 1.2 cent fee for every mile
                    >> driven.
                    >>
                    >> The pilot program ended last month. State officials
                    >> are reviewing
                    >> the results to determine whether the system would
                    >> raise more revenue
                    >> than the gasoline tax. The initiative likely will be
                    >> revived and
                    >> expanded when a few bugs are worked out, says Mr.
                    >> Whitty.
                    >>
                    >> If the program is fully implemented at some point,
                    >> Oregon would
                    >> likely have to keep dual tax methods. Out-of-state
                    >> drivers, whose
                    >> cars wouldn't be equipped with the required mileage
                    >> devices, would
                    >> continue to pay the gas tax, while Oregon drivers
                    >> would be switched
                    >> to the mileage-based fee.
                    >>
                    >> <snip>
                    >>
                    >>
                    >>
                    >
                    >
                    > ----------------------------------------------------------
                    >
                    > "There are other forces inside the White House who are battling the Vice
                    > President over the tiny battleground that is George Bush's mind." - Cenk
                    > Uygur, AirAmerica Radio
                    >
                    > __________________________________________________
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                    >
                  • Larry Finch
                    ... In most states the gas tax is a fixed amount per gallon, not a percentage of selling price. So a higher price at the pump does not increase revenue to the
                    Message 9 of 11 , May 1, 2007
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                      On 5/1/07, docaaron1 <docaaron1@...> wrote:
                      > If you read articles on the high price of gasoline, they say that
                      > gasoline usage is at all time highs. States putting up any argument
                      > that hybrid cars are reducing their road budgets is pure BS! When the
                      > price of gas starts falling like a rock that's when I'll believe that
                      > our hybrids are causing a short fall in road funds. Until then they
                      > can stick their road use tax up their tailpipe.

                      In most states the gas tax is a fixed amount per gallon, not a
                      percentage of selling price. So a higher price at the pump does not
                      increase revenue to the state. If there is less gas consumed the state
                      gets less revenue. However, hybrids are such a vanishingly small
                      percentage of the cars on the road that it is ridiculous to claim that
                      hybrids are the cause of the revenue shortfall. It's the high gas
                      prices, which means that people drive less.

                      best,

                      Larry

                      --
                      Larry Finch

                      N 40° 53' 47"
                      W 74° 03' 56"
                    • docaaron1
                      Larry, you missed the key line, ...gasoline usage is at all time highs Even with a fixed tax per gallon, they should be making more money yet they are saying
                      Message 10 of 11 , May 1, 2007
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                        Larry, you missed the key line, "...gasoline usage is at all time highs"
                        Even with a fixed tax per gallon, they should be making more money yet
                        they are saying they are loosing money. Something doesn't pass the
                        smell test.

                        I hope that helps:)

                        Aaron
                        '02 Prius
                        78K miles
                      • Patrick Wong
                        Hello, Since this subject is still of interest, I will call your attention to this detail of the Oregon pilot program: The drivers bought gasoline at
                        Message 11 of 11 , May 1, 2007
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                          Hello,

                          Since this subject is still of interest, I will call your attention
                          to this detail of the Oregon pilot program: "The drivers bought
                          gasoline at specially equipped service stations, where computers on
                          the pumps subtracted the 24-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax and added a
                          1.2 cent fee for every mile driven."

                          The implication of this is that drivers who use vehicles that get
                          less than 20 mpg (i.e., Suburban, Excursion, Hummer H2, etc.) will
                          pay a lower gas tax under the Oregon program; while drivers who use
                          vehicles that get greater than 20 mpg will pay a greater gas tax.

                          If you currently get 50 mpg on your Prius, live in Oregon, and this
                          program is implemented, your gas tax will become 2.5x what you had
                          previously been paying.

                          Patrick Wong

                          --- In toyota-prius@yahoogroups.com, "docaaron1" <docaaron1@...>
                          wrote:
                          >
                          > Larry, you missed the key line, "...gasoline usage is at all time
                          highs"
                          > Even with a fixed tax per gallon, they should be making more money
                          yet
                          > they are saying they are loosing money. Something doesn't pass the
                          > smell test.
                          >
                          > I hope that helps:)
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