Governor Kulongoski’s mileage tax makes national news

Governor Kulongoski has put in his budget the wild-eyed idea of taxing cars by mileage via satellite. Yesterday the tax even made national news on the Drudge Report and the Kansas Witchita Eagle Newspaper. Oregon has already spent millions testing the idea and will undoubtedly spends millions more implementing it, fixing it, installing it into millions of cars, enforcing it, and eventually scrapping it when it does not work out as planned. They say it does not invade privacy, but travelers must lose some privacy when you have stations recording where you are.

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Posted by at 05:55 | Posted in Measure 37 | 19 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Steve Plunk

    What’s especially irritating is we don’t need a new system, the gas tax works fine.

    It’s collected before the miles are driven. Large inefficient vehicles pay more per mile. This not only better approximates the wear and tear from large vehicles but helps internalize the cost of auto emissions from those low mileage vehicles. The present system of collection is not subject to fraud and has a proven track record. Out of state vehicles pay the same as Oregonians when purchasing fuel. As far as eventually using the system for congestion pricing we already pay for congestion with the currency of time wasted.

    The whole plan is a result of bureaucrats with nothing to do coming up with an unneeded idea. As they say, this is a solution in search of a problem. Leave it to this Governor for such a useless, clueless idea.

  • Mike

    This is just another way to invade our space and make us buy government more time. I will refuse to install GPS in my car because I can’t afford it…but I guess they’ll find a way to stick that to the tax payers too by giving out free ones.

    Sleepy Ted doesn’t understand that if I have a car that uses more gas, then the current system works because I will be buying gas more often.

  • Anonymous

    Impeach Ted the dumbhead

  • Rupert in Springfield

    The bottom line appears to be government wants everyone to do with less, like drive smaller cars, use less gas raise CAFE standards, but they don’t want to with the lower revenue consequences of their decisions. They already figured out a neat way to screw hybrid owners, now they are trying to do it to everyone else.

    While we are at it, could we please start the clock running on the black helicopter name calling?

    You know what I mean right?

    Its one of the transitions that happens when moving from a Republican to a Democrat presidential administration. Generally we also do the traditional move from the term “Concerned Privacy rights Activist” to “Gun Clinging Paranoiac” for any who criticizes the powers that be under a Democratic president.

    As a public service, could someone also put up a link for the cell phone jammers that will work on these GPS units transmission signal? I think it would save a lot of time to get that one going now.

    • Steve Plunk

      Rupert’s spot on. It’s as if the state is saying tighten your belt while we increase our consumption. I’ve heard the complaint about high mileage cars cheating ODOT out of revenue for years. Of course high mileage cars do less damage to the roads. It was also funny how they complained about it while people were buying up SUVs and pickups. The facts is overall fuel mileage stayed stable for the last 10 to 15 years. Whiners.

      On the issue of jamming these couldn’t people putting on a lot of miles just continue paying the 24 cents a gallon and create a shortfall for the state? How does this fit with the cost responsibility law that mandates cars and heavy trucks pay proportional to the impacts on they cause to the roads?

      Did anyone in Salem really think about this?

  • dean

    It would seem that tying the tax to miles driven AND vehicle weight makes the most sense, particularly if more electric vehicles take to the road. In some parts of the state, where we have to take vehicles in for DEQ inspection every other year, I wonder if we couldn’t have them check the odometer and vehicle weight and then levy the tax, paid monthly.

  • Jack

    Stupid Governor has another Stupid Idea.
    I see a Republican Governor in 2010.

  • David from Eugene

    Using only a fuel tax to collect a driver’s fair share of the costs of maintaining and replacing the road system makes sense only as long as nearly all of the vehicles on the road are powered by the taxed fuels. At the point a significant number of vehicles on the road are powered by a means not subject to the fuel tax we have a problem. A hybrid car operating at 50 mpg will drive twice as far on a single tax dollar as a car getting 25 mpg. Assuming that they provide equal wear on the road way and assuming the current gas tax is properly calibrated to provide the necessary revenue to provide for a pro-rata share of both periodic road maintenance costs and eventual replacement at the end of a roads useful life put too many hybrids on the road and the road fund ends up short of the needed funding.

    Given the growing level of popularity of hybrid vehicles and the interest in plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, it is clear that the pure fuel tax model to pay for roads needs to be rethought if we want a functioning road system. It strikes me that a system that is directly based on a vehicle’s impact on the road system and the number of miles it is driven is a reasonable approach. And while we may not need the new system now, it is clear that if current trends continue we will need it in the future so trying to develop a workable proposal now before we are in crisis stage makes a lot of sense.

    As to the Governor proposal, the basic premise, using a GPS based system to track the number of miles a specific vehicle has been operated on Oregon roads seems to have merit. All the big questions seem to have to do with the details.

    A year or two ago I received a brief over view of the proposal as a part of a focus group, the system which we were told would be the one tested, in its most basic terms was that each car would be equipped with a electronic device that contained a number of separate electronic odometers a GPS based system would determine which odometer would record the vehicles travel (i.e. when the vehicle was operated outside Oregon the out of state odometer would record the number of miles traveled). The speakers were quite candid and explained that odometers could be set up based on time and specific geographic areas within Oregon making the capture of the number of miles a vehicle was operated in a congested area during rush hour possible. When the vehicle was refueled the device on the car would communicate with a receiver on the gas pump and transfer the number of miles the vehicle had traveled in each category recorded the road tax due would then be calculated and collected as a part of the fuel purchase transaction.

    Conceptually this appears to be a workable system; it protects privacy as the only information that is recorded is the aggregate miles traveled in a particular type of zone during a extended time period, and would not permit real time tracking of a vehicles location; it would collect taxes only for miles driven on Oregon Roads, regardless of where the fuel is purchased (something the current system does not do) it would mean that fuel used in off road vehicle, farm equipment, lawn movers chain saws and the like would no longer be taxed at the pump. Assuming the concept behind the Governor’s Proposal is the same as the one I just outlined, it is worth considering. Questions remain, starting with the big one, does it work in the real world as well as it does in the lab? Then there is the question of who will bear what start up costs and how to calibrate the per mile tax. But assuming they can be all answered in an acceptable manner. The Governor’s Proposal may be a workable solution to the pending problem of how to fund our road system when the mix of vehicle propulsion systems renders a gas tax obsolete.

  • Joanne Rigutto

    I don’t have a problem with a flat fee. I think the one ODOT used in their pilot project in Portland last year was 2.1 cents/mile. That’s azero sum gain if you figure an average of 20MPG per vehicle driven. As for a differentiation for vehicle weight for passenger vehicles – SUVs, passenger cars, pickup trucks – according to ODOT they all cause the same wear and tear on roads on average.

    The thing I have a big hairy problem with is the congestion/corridor pricing that keeps rearing it’s ugly head. How nice, we can go ahead an penalize people working in jobs that are needed, like construction, in the Portland metro area. People working in those jobs, by and large, can not use public transportation, and they don’t have the option of telling the boss ‘Hey, I’m not going to be in untill 11:00 because of the congestion pricing, and by the way, I’ll need to knock off work at 2:30 so I can scoot on outta here because if I don’t I’ll have to charge you congestion pricing if I leave at the normal time of 3:30’….

    Personally, if this congestion/corridor pricing comes to pass, I think that all city officials – not the rank and file worker employees – have to pay congestion/corridor pricing, or perhaps they could take pucblic transportation.

    If this thing goes through, I’m going to have to tack on a surcharge for the work I do in Portland and every other city I work in that implements this. I’m going to put it on the estimate as a seperate item so that people know why the charge is there.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Good God, could we please get away from this idea of GPS on the simple fact that it has one big problem? Its stupid. Its the stupidest idea I ever heard of. Its so stupid, I cant think of anyone who would consider it less than stupid other than a real stupid stupid head.

    The issue – The gas tax works fine as a funding mechanism ( funding mechanism, rates might be wrong given your persuasion ) so long as all cars of a given weight class get essentially the same mileage.

    The problem – As we move to more fuel efficient cars, the notion develops that a fuel efficient car might cause the same wear and tear to roads, but pay less tax than the non fuel efficient car. This has some validity. Therefore, how do we separate cars according to the wear the do rather than the gas they use.

    The really stupid solution – Install a stupid GPS unit that is really expensive and raises real privacy concerns ( OK, it raises significant privacy concerns until noon Jan 20th, and black helicopter concerns thereafter, see previous post ).

    Some smarter solutions:

    Do as we do now with hybrids – charge the tax at registration time according to miles driven. Gee, check an odometer or rely on some clumsy gadget? Boy, that’s sure some hard math.

    Change gas taxes at the pump, this could be done by having different nozzle sizes as was done with the switch from leaded to unleaded. High mpg cars could have a smaller nozzle size with higher tax.

    Use a sticker issued at registration time, charge gas tax at the pump based upon sticker. Stickers would be issued separating high mpg cars from low.

    Wait – The number of high mpg cars on the road such as electrics or hybrids is statistically insignificant right now, there is hardly a crushing need for a solution at this time. Wait until high mpg cars become a large majority and then increase the tax overall.

    Do sort of nothing – Wait until the high mpg cars become statistically significant then slowly increase the tax as we all move to electric cars, supposedly. Increase the tax at the rate high mpg cars start to appear.

    Stupid solutions for those who are determined to have government doing something big in order to obtain personal happiness, show caring of others and achieve whatever type of enlightenment they gain from this idiocy that frankly more constructive members of our society seem perfectly able to achieve through mantra chanting but oh no these types just have to have some massive program to feel content:

    Incentivize – Have those who want to do the GPS thing go ahead with it. The state could issue the units and tax accordingly. Upon presenting proof of installation of such a unit at the pump, the gas tax applied at the pump would be deducted as they are electing to pay via GPS unit tax.

    Incentivize Further – Follow steps under Incentivize above but also have some sort of “Government On Star” built into the GPS unit. In this manner this group ( see above, stupid solutions ) could not only have their preferred level of government involvement in their lives, tracking everywhere they go, but could also call on them at the push of a button to solve every damn problem in their lives. Additional fees for “Government On Star” services ( such as toilet paper usage instruction or education in what a fork is ) would be provided by government experts. These could be add on options to the service that I am sure these people would flock to like welfare recipients to a five pound blocks of cheese or a Wal Mart plasma TV sale.

  • WTF

    Jesus Christ sheeple!!! You see nothing wrong with GPS tracking? What’s next? Tattoo numbers on your forearm? Where is the $%^*&* line drawn?

  • Joanne Rigutto

    One of the things that facilitate vehichle miles traveled (VMT) charges and congestion/corridor/cordon charging is the fact that if you have a new vehicle you’re already locked and loaded. That was mandated by congress a few years ago to further implement Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) and the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). Don’t believe me? Look it up, Google is your friend here and most of what you’re going to come across are USDOT and state DOT websites.

    The pilot project completed in Portland this year showed it is possible to convert vehicles that aren’t already set up for it, to VMT fees, especially if you don’t add the nifty option of congestion pricing. ODOT already determined that the best way to charge would be at the pump. It hurts the least (you’re paying a small ammount each time you fill up). It’s also the method that would probably have the least evasion. Also, people are already used to paying fuels taxes at the pump, so this new taxing scheme would be more acceptible.

    If the congestion pricing option is not implemented those people who aren’t already equiped can be allowed to continue paying the fuels tax while those with newer vehicles can be made to pay the VMT tax. Also, out of state drivers will need to be able to pay a fuels tax.

    At least that’s what ODOT was saying last summer. ODOT also declared last summer that they were going to go to the legislature and get some kind of legislation passed to allow implementation of this system.

    If you don’t like this you’d better all get your butts down to Salem, get on the horn to your senator and representative, let ’em know you’re not going to be happy with anything like this, and bird dog ODOT and the legislature by checking their websites on a regular basis to see what bills are getting introduced so you can fight them.

    People can say all they want that ‘This is America, they could never do that’. Well, I’ve been in that fight, and I’ll tell you, constitution or no constitution, our law makers can do what ever they bloody well want to us unless we stand up and fight it!

  • Scottiebill

    I’ve been referring to Teddy as Teddy the Useless for quite sometime now. But, since he has come up with this hare-brained scheme, I will start referring to him as Teddy the Stupid AND Useless. This is just another nefarious ruse to grab more money from the people. Do not believe for a moment that the gas tax paid at the pump will go away if they decide to go with the GPS idea. It won’t. And don’t believe that any money collected through this “use tax” will be used for streets, roads, and bridges. It won’t. They will use it for useless, irrelevant things that no one wants or really needs. They’ve done it before. They’ll do it again.

    Remember, when buying and selling are controlled by the legislature, the first things to be bought and sold are the legislators.

  • Lee

    Rupert, like you write, Oregon should at least wait for responding to what method might be appropriate to compensate for changes in vehicle taxation, or at all. When less than 1% of all vehicles in the state are hybrids or electric, or any other vehicle using fuels besides gas/diesel, it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel.

    Oregon in the past and even in the immediate past has shown a profound problem in “inventing the wheel” as displayed in numerous examples. We alwayas seem to be the state that wants to be “THE FIRST”. And many times making the claim when we’re not .

  • mike

    What organization in Oregon is fighting this? Let me know so that i can thow them some money. This is the worst form of government intrusion into our livs. Next they are going to tax us for breathing clean air. Sneaky taxes like this are wrong and should be fought. Hybrids don’t do the same damage as a logging truck or delivery truck to the roads. Look if there is a budget shorfall jsut man up and say hey we need more cash so were raising taxes. Cut this sneaking through the back door crap.

  • Gary Wolfer

    Has everyone lost their common sense? If gas revenues are falling short because of hybrids and electric cars let the owners of them install a gps and pay and leave the rest of the system the way it is. The reason people are not buying as much gas now is the price and lack of money. Truckers in Oregon have been complaining about the fuel mileage charges for years as they are unfair compared to california and nevada systems. What can they be thinking. I am not a proponent of free health care either but we could have had a fine system with the money they threw at the banks. could have should have would have.

  • Michael

    People will probably buy larger freezers so that they have to drive to the supermarket less often or try and do everything in a single journey. Maybe others will start looking for shortcuts they can take long their route (cutting through corner gas stations).

    Just look at how people reacted in the past to all those taxation methods like The “Hearth Tax” (people used a single large hearth), The “Brick Tax” (builders used larger bricks) and the “Window tax” (people bricked up their windows).

  • eric c

    just a quick reaction, there is a big privacy concern unless you trust the tax man, which i do not. radical idea, i feel that everyone uses roads basically equally whether they ride trucks cars or bicycles because if the govment had there way we would all have no cars, guns and live in equal sized ecodomes. the amount of support transpo for everyones trash, goods and services and occupational transpo more than equalize private transpo. therefore eliminate All gas taxes and tax everyone an equal amount for whatever public road repairs cost. then homeless, rich, legal, illegal, bike dogooders,etc. can all pay the same> ha ha see ted other idiots can have an idea. ” there are 3 types of people: 1)thinkers & pointers, 2) doers, 3)watchers (one and especially three should pay extra oxygen tax!)

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