Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Sid Salter: Readers Ponder the Future of How We Pay for Future Road and Bridge Maintenance

 After a recent column on the soaring retail cost of gasoline and the concomitant impact those prices have on related fuel taxes and the proliferation of electric vehicles, readers weighed in with their ideas and questions

Nick Gerteis of Brooksville, an electric vehicle commuter, reminded me that Mississippi electric vehicle owners are being taxed as an offset to foregone fuel taxes by the State of Mississippi depending on the type of electric vehicle or hybrid vehicle they own.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, Mississippi all-electric vehicle owners (in addition to standard registration fees) must pay an annual fee of $150. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and HEV owners must pay an annual fee of $75.

Beginning July 1, 2021, the Mississippi Department of Revenue will increase the fee annually to account for inflation, equal to the increase in the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers for the prior year.

In offering future solutions to the drain on existing fuel taxes by the growing prevalence of electric vehicles, Gerteis was circumspect but not without ideas: “Almost all road damage is caused by large trucks. Why? Damage goes up with vehicle weight, but not linearly—it goes up by the square of weight increase.

“An 80,000-pound semi will not just cause 20 times the damage of a 4,000-pound car, but 20x20 or 400 times the damage. Registration fees for large trucks need to increase accordingly. I realize this will basically be a tax on everyone as truckers will have to raise prices which will make almost everything more expensive. But it’s fair, doable, and necessary,” Gerteis argues.

Tupelo’s Jim Missett offered his thoughts: “I have seen the swing in gas tax revenue as hybrid and fully electric vehicles come on line. Gas tax revenue decreases as these vehicles come on line because owners don't pay at the pump - or at least as much with hybrids.

“The problem/issue becomes how do hybrid and fully electric vehicles pay their share of maintenance for roads and bridges? You can charge a flat rate when the owners pay registration fees, or you can require maintaining travel logs recording mileage traveled. I am not for monitoring mileage because that smacks of Big Brother keeping tabs on individual vehicle usage and with regulation creep government (local, state and federal government) goes further and further into monitoring where you go, when you go and the purposes of the trips.”

As noted in the prior column on this topic, the combined 37.19 cents-per-gallon total federal and state gasoline taxes are failing on several fronts — Mississippi’s total 18.79 tax and fees per gallon is a flat tax. So, too, is the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax. The only way the state and federal governments take in more revenue in gas taxes is for the volume of gas consumed to increase.

The Congressional Budget Office reported last year that state and federal fuel taxes account for more than 40 percent of all highway construction and maintenance in the country and that if the funding system does not change by 2030, federal transportation funding will be $188 billion over budget.

Both federal and state lawmakers have decisions to make about fuel taxes as a funding source for future highway construction and maintenance. Last year, the President Joe Biden Administration first pushed then beat a rather hasty retreat from the concept of including a vehicle mile traveled or VMT tax component as a means to pay for Biden’s massive national infrastructure proposal.


The VMT tax would raise transportation funds from the taxpayers by levying a tax on how many miles someone travels rather than how much gasoline they pump — which is the present system through federal and state gasoline taxes.

While blue states applauded the proposal, the VMT plan was widely panned by members from rural red states across the South and the Midwest — where rural taxpayers routinely drive long distances daily to work, seek education or medical care, and engage in farm-to-market commerce.


Saddling rural taxpayers here — those with the lowest per capita income in the nation and the highest poverty rate — with the VMT tax would negate Biden’s campaign pledge that those making less than $400,000 per year “won't see one single penny in additional federal tax.”

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Stop investing in electric cars and pivot toward private, self-piloting quad rotor craft. People can fly everywhere and the roads can be left to the commercial traffic. It is 2022 and Tesla’s don’t impress me at all. I want self flying transportation and we have the technology RIGHT NOW! Government is the only entity holding us back!

Anonymous said...

VMT would be little different than the current gas is still usage based and those who travel further pay more in gas. What it would do is make it more fair on the electric vehicle front as it negates the reliance on usage of gasoline, which electric vehicles do not use, obviously. You could add a component on vehicle weight on there also to account for the affects of vehicle weight on road degredation.

Anonymous said...

I am 8:35 AM and I meant to say stop *subsidizing* EV instead of stop investing.
Yes I know many will argue that a lot of EV subsidies are gone.
However, there are still more subsidies than the other forms of transportation.

Unknown said...

The energy source the vehicle uses is irrelevant.

Charge a yearly fee based on the vehicles weight, when the tag is renewed, for every vehicle regardless of their energy source. The deterioration of the roads has nothing to do with the source of energy used by the vehicle. It has every thing to do with weight.

Problem solved.

This ain't hard, y'all.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Anonymous said...

If "gas tax" wasn't a cash cow there wouldn't be a personal vehicle that got under 30mpg on the road in this country without a special usage license allowing for it's use. There are tens of millions of gas hogging vehicles on our roads using twice the fuel(and causing twice the pollution) of more economical vehicles for pleasure and status reasons. Mo gas = Mo tax revenue. The pols ain't going to let this cash cow die. Anybody that believes EV's are gonna be cheaper to operate OVERALL is a naïve fool.

Anonymous said...

So, we are subsidizing the electric auto makers which in turn reduces tax revenue from gasoline sales. Now we are totally confused that that revenue no longer is available for road maintenance. P

Anonymous said...

Road repair costs are the ultimate corporate welfare. Yes we need infrastructure, but gov’t too often overpays for inferior work. And that’s before we get to the ever increasing weight capacity of trucks. Jackson has crappy streets on Yazoo clay, but allows 80,000 lb trucks to traverse - not good policy.

8:35 is thinking ahead: we need to decrease the traffic on roads whether that’s allowing for hovering over them or some other alternative, gov’t cannot continue pouring money into roads and bridges at the rate it does. It’s easy to get on the new road tit, but repairs and maintenance are a beast. Just look at the roads around the I55-463 interchange. Yes, Mayor Mary’s bricks are still pretty, but the roads on either side of 55 are starting to resemble Jackistan.

Anonymous said...

9:52, it might have a little something to do with miles driven?

Anonymous said...

If the gas tax money was used for the reason it is collected we wouldn't have a problem. Just like any other tax there are too many hands in the cookie jar. Don't expect for that to change for the better. Stealing from the government is getting easier by the day. We keep electing crooks.

Anonymous said...

They will soon tax by the mile.

Tweety said...

@9:52 is halfway there
(Weight rating) X (Miles driven/MPG rating)
This way if you improve your mpg you reduce your taxes which is the environmental encouragement we seek.

Nuff said?

Anonymous said...

I believe according to weight is how Trucks are tagged now? Any car owners wanna pay $6,000 to ride the roads of Ms?

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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