Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The downside of cleaner vehicles: less gas tax revenue

The local N&O ran a front page story today about a dilemma facing federal and state governments.  They all use a gasoline tax to fund highway construction and maintenance.  Because of a combination of people driving less and cars getting more gas mileage, gas taxes are not generating enough revenue to cover highway costs.  Also the gas tax hits different road users in very different ways; if you own an electric vehicle you pay no tax, even if you use the roads as much as someone driving a truck or SUV.

The options are not attractive for policy makers.  One approach is to continue to raise gas taxes.  Another is to change the system and charge users by the mile driven.  This can be done via high tech (GPS) or low (annual odometer checks).  NC State experts are advising the state on another option: congestion pricing on urban freeways.

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