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Editorial from The Olympian (WA):
As state lawmakers begin gathering in Olympia for Monday’s start to the 2013 legislative session, the never-ending quest for new revenue that isn’t-a-tax-increase will continue. That should be sufficient motivation for the Legislature to consider applying the gasoline tax more fairly, but it means going down a tricky road full of potholes and warning signs.
As more and more people are turning to all-electric and highly fuel-efficient vehicles, there is a corresponding decline in gas tax revenue. And this creates a conundrum for the state Department of Transportation: how to pay for upgrading and maintaining our roadways.
Revenue from Washington’s 37.5 cents per gallon gas tax generates the largest portion of transportation funds, but only 8 cents of the revenue goes to funding repairs and maintenance, safety improvements on both highways and ferries, and congestion relief projects.
The Legislature started to address this problem in the last session with HB 2660, which imposes an annual electric vehicle fee of $100. Starting Feb. 1, owners of the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadsters and certain modified all-electric vehicles will pay the fee when they renew their vehicle registration.
That’s a good start, but it doesn’t address the loss of gas tax revenue as the number of vehicles getting 40, 50 and more miles per gallon increases. Highly fuel-efficient vehicles don’t cause any less wear and tear on state roads. The need to repair and maintain roadways will remain the same, and will likely increase with population gains and the ongoing need to construct improved commercial shipping corridors to support regional employers.
Bottom line: Looks like owners of all-electric and highly fuel-efficient vehicles aren’t paying their “fair share” of taxes for road repairs.
HT: Dallas Walton
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