States look to tax movement as gas tax revenues decline

As more and more people are turning to all-electric and highly fuel-efficient vehicles, there is a corresponding decline in gas tax revenue. And this creates a conundrum for the state Department of Transportation: how to pay for upgrading and maintaining our roadways.

Revenue from Washington’s 37.5 cents per gallon gas tax generates the largest portion of transportation funds, but only 8 cents of the revenue goes to funding repairs and maintenance, safety improvements on both highways and ferries, and congestion relief projects.

The Legislature started to address this problem in the last session with HB 2660, which imposes an annual electric vehicle fee of $100. Starting Feb. 1, owners of the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadsters and certain modified all-electric vehicles will pay the fee when they renew their vehicle registration.

That’s a good start, but it doesn’t address the loss of gas tax revenue as the number of vehicles getting 40, 50 and more miles per gallon increases.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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