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 sidsalter@sidsalter.com

12 comments:

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 tax.....it 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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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!!!

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