The new political term that taxpayers should start to pay attention to is “VMT." And no, it’s not a disease; it stands for Vehicle Miles Traveled.
It is a fact that the dollars allocated to maintain, rehab and operate the California highway system are far below the amount needed. The current debate is on how we make up the needed monies. A “vehicle miles traveled” or “per mile fee” is starting to gain traction. Governor Brown has signed into law a bill that would put a pilot project into place in 2015. If the pilot project is successful we can see it becoming law in 2017.
As California drivers move to more fuel-efficient cars, the gas tax paid at the pumps is not keeping pace with the need. The devil is going to be in the details on how this new fee would be implemented. Taxpayer privacy will be a huge concern as well as making sure that this is not an additional tax on top of the current gas tax in place. Also, Sacramento has a history of moving monies specifically designated for services into other areas, I am not sure there is a fail safe way to keep that from happening with these dollars. There will be winners and losers. Those that drive more fuel efficient cars could find their taxes going up while gas guzzlers may see a drop depending on how it is structured.
And the time will come when highly taxed Californians will have to reflect on what their state taxes are actually paying for. Shouldn’t infrastructure be at the top of the list?
Here are two links for more in-depth articles on the subject:
By Carolyn Cavecche, President & CEO of Orange County Taxpayers Association