Friday, July 03, 2015
Oregon launches program to tax drivers by the mile
By Dan Springer
Published July 03, 2015
David Hastings is a rare American. This long-time hybrid car owner from Oregon wants to pay higher taxes for roads and bridges and says the current 30 cents per gallon state gas tax barely affects him.
"I've been free-loading on the highways for 20 years driving electric cars or hybrid cars, getting at least 40 miles to the gallon. So I haven't been paying my share," Hastings said.
Now, Hastings will pay more thanks to OReGO -- the first pay-by-the-mile program in the U.S.
Oregon’s Department of Transportation has been working on it for 15 years as a way to eventually replace the gas tax, which has been flat due to an influx of high mileage vehicles and people driving less.
Right now the program is voluntary and being capped at 5,000 participants, but an ODOT official told Fox News the ultimate goal is to make it mandatory and change the way states pay for roads -- forever.
"We're trying to make up for a growing deficit, really, because inflation's eating away at our ability to buy asphalt and rebar and the things we need to maintain the roads," said Tom Fuller of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
According to a national usage fee alliance, 28 states are in various stages of following down the same road. However, there are also privacy concerns. Two of the three OReGO systems track and store a car’s every move.
"To put a GPS monitor in everybody's car, the government already knows too much about us as it is," Jeff Kruse, a Republican lawmaker told Fox News.
Others are raising questions about the cost. Getting the gas tax is cheap, but OReGO vendors will eat up 40 cents of every dollar collected, and for those not used to paying any gas tax, it could be a whole new sticker shock – every month.
Jeff Allen, of “Drive Oregon,” supports the one and a half cent per mile usage fee -- to a point.
"We need to be subsidizing and incentivizing electric cars and not putting more taxes or fees on them, not discouraging people from buying them in any way," Allen said.
Dan Springer joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in August 2001 as a Seattle-based correspondent.