Don’t Fret–Probably Years, Even Decades, Before Road Gas Tax
Many people are buzzing about the proposed road tax that was voted on by the Washington State Transportation Commission this week. It would tax drivers by the mileage they drive as opposed to at the pump.
The reason for the idea is that despite raising the gas tax virtually every legislative session, revenues are sliding below projections. That's due to more fuel efficient vehicles, and efficiency by drivers too.
However, even the Commission acknowledged it "could be decades" before the gas tax completely goes away. That's because the state has construction bonds that were configured using the 'old' gas tax revenues. They will have to be paid off before the gas tax can go away--and it could take ten years.
But besides that, officials admit it will be a hard sell with legislators and citizens. How to track the miles driven is a big issue. Many lawmakers say their constituents (especially in Eastern WA) will NOT stand for GPS devices tracking their driving habits.
What's likely to happen is there will be some sort of 'mix', where gas vehicles are gradually phased in. Commercial vehicles and trucks will be exempt from the road tax according to reports.
The Commission also believes the road tax should start with electric or hybrid vehicles first. That will come as an irritation to those who purchased them thinking they were going to save money in the long run. They also favor converting the state's motor pool fleet to the road tax before it goes public.
Expect a lot of wrangling and fighting in Olympia this next session. In the meantime, we will continue to pay the highest state gas tax in America.