Transportation Dept. ludicrously claims tax-per-mile needed to offset prevalence of fuel-efficient cars

Adan Salazar
January 31, 2014

Lawmakers in Washington state are edging closer to implementing a new system that would monitor and tax drivers based on miles driven, under a proposal supposedly centered around transportation funding sustainability.

Lawmakers claim tax-per-mile needed due to prevalence of fuel-efficient cars.
Lawmakers claim tax-per-mile needed due to prevalence of fuel-efficient cars. / Image: Flickr
The Washington State Transportation Commission and the Department of Transportation say the motor fuel tax, which currently pays for 76% of transportation investments, is unsustainable “over the long term.”

In a dizzying twist of logic, the Commission and DOT blame the prevalence of fuel-efficient cars as the reason the state now needs a per-mile tax, arguing that “the move to cleaner, smarter vehicles must be accompanied by a change in the way we pay for our roads.”

“Population and vehicle miles traveled will continue to increase but vehicles will burn less gasoline – resulting in less revenue to maintain and operate our roadway system,” a state-funded promotional pamphlet declares.

Last week, a committee set up by the Transportation Commission, after concluding a $1.4 million study, reported the fee could generate upwards of $3 billion. By 2015, transportation officialdom hopes to roll out a pilot program and gauge “public acceptance issues.”

“According to the study, drivers could be charged three ways; either with a flat-fee, by having odometers checked, or with an electronic device installed in cars to measure how many miles are driven,” a King 5 News report states.

As expected, however, not everyone is happy with the idea of having to bail out the state. “I choose to drive a car that takes less gas,” Portland resident Hayley Ramerman says, “so I think I shouldn’t have to be charged more because I’m choosing to drive a car that is more fuel efficient.”

Others are concerned the technology used by the state to monitor driving habits poses immense risks to privacy. “[I]t’s the ‘black box’ system in particular that’s untenable: It would force us to surrender our privacy,” Mark Perry, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, said in May 2013. “Each day more and more of us are required to tell government agencies more and more about ourselves. Do we really want the government collecting data about driving habits?”

Last year, Oregon began charging drivers a 1.5 cent-per-mile fee in its own tax-per-mile scheme. And it’s going to get worse before it gets any better.

“The incentive for states to pursue this kind of program could build as cars become more fuel efficient, especially considering President Obama wants new vehicles to get 54.5 mpg by 2025, up from the average now of 23.5 mpg’s,” according to a report filed by Fox News.

Boiling frog anecdote used to convince Washingtonians that tax-per-mile is needed.
Boiling frog anecdote used to convince Washingtonians that tax-per-mile is needed.
In the aforementioned pamphlet, the anecdote of the boiling frog is used to somehow relate how the rise of fuel-efficient vehicles will spell certain disaster for highway funding efforts. It also lists states considering a similar tax, such as Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado and California, in addition to a stretch of Highway I-95 which runs from Maine to Florida.

For years Infowars has warned that vehicle surveillance devices would be sold to us as a necessity. Now people like Hasan Ikhrata, the executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, claim black boxes, in order to tax citizens, are “really.. a must for our nation.”

“There is going to be a change in how we pay these taxes. The technology is there to do it,” Ikhrata told the Los Angeles Times.

Since 2004, state legislators have waged an uphill battle in trying to convince citizens to sign on to similar taxes. According to at least one non-scientific poll, conducted by a local TV station in California, however, 95.2 percent of viewers, out of 339 people who voted, were against a mileage tax.

In the grander scheme, the plan to tax per mile ultimately follows goals set forth in the United Nation’s notorious Agenda 21 action plan, which among other things purportedly seeks to “Encourage economic policies conducive to sustainable development.”

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