Instead of raising gas tax, a tax on vehicle miles traveled?

Instead of raising gas tax, a tax on vehicle miles traveled?

With the overall decrease in driving and the increase in fuel efficiency, the gas tax paid into the Highway Trust Fund just doesnt meet our infrastructure needs anymore. Some officials are looking for alternatives.

One possibility is a tax on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), a mileage-based user fee that could reduce congestion and carbon emissions. The Senate proposed it, but the House wouldnt move it, perhaps because of the feared reaction from rural constituents.

A black box in your car would record the miles driven and convey the information to a taxing authority. Several states are looking at the idea, with Oregon the farthest along, carrying out a pilot with 5,000 drivers. The I-95 Coalition, made up of 17 state transportation departments including Maryland and Virginia is studying the concept.

The possibility of a VMT tax has created some unusual bedfellows. The tea party and the American Civil Liberties Union hate the idea. Libertarians and environmentalists applaud it. But theres one point everyone can agree on: We need a way to pay for our infrastructure, and Congress isnt interested in raising the gas tax for the first time in 20 years.

A VMT tax really is a must for our nation, said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, according to the Los Angeles Times. Its not a matter of something we might choose to do. SCAG plans to monitor the miles traveled by every motorist in the state by 2025.

And in the auto industry, its often been true that as California goes, so goes the nation.

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