Thursday, August 19, 2004

Plan would tax vehicle miles traveled

One component of Governor Schwarzenegger's California Performance Review would explore whether or not to impose a tax on vehicle miles traveled--not just on gasoline consumed:

It's a looming problem as hybrids become more popular, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's government-reform commission has come up with a solution: Tax motorists based on the miles they drive, not the amount of gas they consume.

The idea from the California Performance Review is just that at this point: an idea. It would have to go through extensive debate to come to fruition.

But it's not at all far-fetched. Oregon will do a test run of such a "vehicle- miles traveled" system next year.

The plan, which still requires legislative approval there, would put a $100 global- positioning-system device in every new car in Oregon. The device would beam drivers' in-state mileage to a satellite, which would then send the information to the service station where the driver is refueling so the proper tax can be levied at the pump.

Conservationists raise valid concerns that using such a plan, exclusively, would discourage drivers from using more cost-efficient vehicles. Yet the plan would seem to make sense for insurance companies to adopt...