CA road use tax could morph into social engineering experiment

CA road use tax could morph into social engineering experiment

toll.roadsThe prospect that Californians will face a new state levy is certain to cause grousing and considerable comment. But a proposal that is increasingly making waves has far-reaching implications and possibilities that have yet to be acknowledged. This is from the San Jose Mercury-News:

More people are driving electric cars. Gasoline cars are getting better mileage. And California’s vehicles are causing less pollution.

But all that good news is generating a major problem: As motorists buy less gasoline, state gas tax revenues that pay for roads have been falling for a decade, leading to more potholes and traffic jams.

Now, in a move that could solve the problem — or cause a political pileup — state officials have begun to seriously study a plan to replace California’s gas tax with a fee for each mile motorists drive.

“We’re going to have to find another way to finance the upkeep of the roads,” Gov. Jerry Brown said earlier this month in rolling out his 2015 budget, noting that California has a $59 billion backlog of maintenance needs on state highways and bridges.

This has drawn concern on civil liberties grounds because some fear the state wouldn’t just track miles, it would for the first time actively track where people go 24-7-365. Townhall columnist John Ransom outlines his issues with the proposal here.

Fees calibrated to punish regular car owners?

But if the state had the power Brown envisions, we also could see another unprecedented scenario: Environmentalists constantly lobbying elected officials to find the optimum way to maximize revenue while minimizing use of fossil-fuel vehicles. It seems likely that greens would argue that hybrids and electric vehicles shouldn’t have to pay as high a usage fee as vehicles using internal-combustion engines.

So we could see a new form of social engineering, one in which taxes are used to make standard cars and trucks much more expensive and much less attractive a driving option.

It’s true that more than a dozen Democrats in the Assembly and Senate have indicated concern about AB 32 and other state policies forcing gasoline prices higher.

But California may be in a new era in which Tom Steyer and other green billionaires throw their weight around and create a liberal political establishment that is even more hostile to fossil fuels than the old one. Steyer’s potential vanity candidacy for the U.S. Senate died of whispered ridicule, but the deference he routinely receives from Democratic power centers is a sign that party insiders know the former hedge fund manager’s aggressive environmentalism is a fact of life in state politics going forward.

Not just against fracking but all fossil fuels

Final-Crossroads-Tour-300x194Are young liberals all aboard for the Steyerization of the California Democratic Party? A good barometer of their anti-fossil fuel sentiment will come Feb. 7 in Oakland at the “March for Real Climate Leadership.”

The protest was originally conceived as a way to pressure Gov. Jerry Brown to change course and actively oppose fracking. But now organizers’ goals are broader:

On the heels of an historic ban on fracking on the basis of health impacts in New York, and after seeing millions of people around the world respond to dire scientific warnings about climate change by standing up and raising their voices in unison, we find ourselves on the verge of something big.  We now are well positioned to not only ban fracking and other dangerous forms of fossil fuel extraction, but to also dramatically turn the tide against fossil fuels in the great state of California, and usher in a 100% renewable energy future.


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  1. Ronald Stein
    Ronald Stein 28 January, 2015, 07:30

    The vehicle mileage tax (VMT) allows the USERS to fund our transportation system.

    An efficient transportation system is critical for California’s economy and quality of life. However, the current gas tax system is NOT working to fund the repairs and maintenance of our roads. The roads get the same wear and tear regardless of a vehicle being an SUV, hybrid, or alternative fuel vehicle.

    The current California vehicle registration in 2012 was 32,000,000 (2,662 billion miles driven) and the consumption of transportation fuels was 50,000,000 gallons EVERY DAY, or an average of about 1.5 gallons per day per vehicle. Vehicle registration is projected to grow 37% from 32,000,000 to 44,000,000 vehicles by 2030 and 3,138 billion miles projected to be driven (18% increase).

    Even though there is a projected growth of the number of vehicles by 18%, the fuel demand is projected to decrease slightly from the current 50,000,000 gallons per DAY mostly as a result of more fuel efficiencies, and a slight impact by the 3% of vehicles that run on electricity or other alternative fuels. The fuels tax we have cannot keep up with the projected increases in miles to be driven on our roads and the ever increasing fuel efficiencies of newer automobiles.

    AB32 was implemented in 2006 when CA contributed a minuscule 1% to the worlds GHG’s. Now 8 years later we have higher costs for energy and higher costs for every industry that relies on energy and the by-products from oil and we still have that 1% minuscule contribution to the World’s GHG’s. In the past 40 years, California’s population has nearly doubled to its present 38 million, but the air quality has gotten better, not worse. The primary things Mary Nichols and AB32 have done is to generate millions of dollars of income to the government at the expense of the financially challenged.

    The California State Transportation Agency has estimated that the needs assessment for system preservation, expansion, and management over the next 10 years will have a SHORTFALL of almost $300 billion dollars.

    The fair taxation methodology to maintain the roads is to have the users of those roads pay for maintaining them, thus the vehicle mileage-based user tax system (VMT) seems to be an easy decision.

    Reply this comment
    • John Seiler
      John Seiler 28 January, 2015, 08:18

      The point is some inefficiency is worth not having the government spy on us in yet another way.

      Reply this comment
    • David in the OC
      David in the OC 28 January, 2015, 17:08

      This may explain why the gas tax receipts are not keeping up with vehicle miles, and thus why road maintenance and repair is relatively underfunded, but it does not justify a VMT compared to alternatives. The main alternative, of course, would be to raise the gas tax, with the idea that increasing gas mileage combined with a higher tax could lead to a nearly equalized tax cost per mile. Along with a modest annual surcharge on electric vehicles to reflect their non-contribution to the road repair funding stream. Raising the already high gas tax would be as popular on Cal Watchdog as charging Tesla and Prius drivers more for registration would be in Santa Monica, Davis or Marin.

      Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 28 January, 2015, 09:04


    You get it?

    This is like a flat tax.

    It taxes the poor.

    You can drive a German Panzer….same mileage tax.

    Reply this comment
  3. B. Thomas
    B. Thomas 28 January, 2015, 10:13

    If the politicians didn’t STEAL, there would be more than enough money to repair bridges and roads. It’s just that the money is used on BS and more BS. Also, wanting to charge electric and hybrids less – the facts are, they weigh the same as cars with gasoline engines and put the same stress on bridges and roads.

    Reply this comment
  4. bob
    bob 28 January, 2015, 16:49

    “…begun to seriously study a plan to replace California’s gas tax with a fee for each mile motorists drive.”

    Replace??? Don’t make me laugh. These thieves will tack this new mileage tax ON TOP OF the current gas tax.

    Reply this comment
    • bob
      bob 28 January, 2015, 16:50

      Chris, you must remember the state motto: “Tax’em to the stoneage!”

      Reply this comment
  5. bob
    bob 28 January, 2015, 16:58

    …and usher in a 100% renewable energy future…

    100%, eh? You ever see a solar powered Boeing 747s take off? Or how ’bout them solar powered AirBus a380s take off? Quite a sight, indeed.

    Reply this comment
  6. bob
    bob 28 January, 2015, 16:59

    So how are these enviro wackos gonna get to their big shin dig if they don’t use fossil fuels?

    Reply this comment
  7. Michael
    Michael 28 January, 2015, 17:56

    Yes please let’s raise taxes so the state employees can keep their ridiculous pensions and pay. For those of you that think flooding the state will illegals and welfare queens and endless taxes is anything but doom look to Detroit. Oh yes and you can keep your doctor. Idiots

    Reply this comment
  8. Hey Bro!
    Hey Bro! 28 January, 2015, 18:31

    Yo Bro…I’m like meathead RobLowe, cause I can’t stop saying Bro, Bro! I need some bigger tires for my BroDozer…that’s my CrewCab long bed pickup powered with a turbo Diesel. If I could power it with dead baby seals and kittens it wouldn’t matter, bro. I already pay a gripload of dough for Tires and lift kits and Weighlifting nutritional supplements. I’m happy that some “GirlyMen” are stupid enough to drive Electic, hybrid, pixie dust powered cars, Bro, as I can balance out my BroDozer with their stupidity. My truck is big enough to drive without roads, bro! My truck will never be powered with solar…they can kiss my rock hard gluteous before that happens bro!

    Bring on the Tanning Bed, Bro!

    Reply this comment
    NTHEOC 28 January, 2015, 20:10

    Nice rant Mikey!! But your a little late as we’ve already had the Detroit debates. As for our ridiculous pensions and pay, well that’s always a fun topic with DOOMERS like yourself. Here Mikey I’ll start it, Total CalPERS Fund Market Value
    Reflects market value, as of market close on 1/27/2015.
    $296.7 Billion! Ok mike, now it’s your turn and the fun begins……..

    Reply this comment
    • bob
      bob 28 January, 2015, 21:12

      It’s like I was tellin’ ya, NT. 3 at 50 just isn’t good enough for you…shoulda been 100 at 50 for you…

      Reply this comment
  10. Big Bad Bill
    Big Bad Bill 28 January, 2015, 21:06

    OF COURSE they’re going to track you. PUHLEEZ. You tax slaves are so damn stupid.
    Oh yeah-the gas tax just ISN”T ENOUGH-what with project labor agreements, absurd redundant CEQA and NEPA, engineering studies, there’s nothing left over for asphalt.

    Reply this comment
  11. Ken Kong
    Ken Kong 29 January, 2015, 03:24

    Steyer does not receive “deference” from Dems he receives kowtows to his money. If he had no money he would be a non-person. And I thought the left was “poor” and that all the ills in the world were attributable to wealthy conservatives? Right. Sure. If you say so. Uh huh. A solidly absurd leftie thinking process and talking point, as if we might believe it.

    Reply this comment
  12. Queeg
    Queeg 29 January, 2015, 09:28


    Let single issue nuts spend into oblivion.

    Maybe will trickle down to you doomies!

    Reply this comment
  13. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 30 January, 2015, 11:11

    If anyone needs proof that this is a very bad idea please realize that many European countries already do this. The entire agenda of America’s “Progressive” Fascist control freaks boils down to this – Find out what Euroweenies are doing, then do the same thing. It’s been that way for 120 years, with no end in sight.

    There is truly no limit to the willingness of Crazyfornia voters to bow and scrape and kow tow to our smug, arrogant, dictatorial political elites and their special interest puppet masters. Face it, we live in a state populated by drones, patsies and complacent, ignorant nincompoops. The average Demo-drone in the state doesn’t have a clue and is quite satisfied with everything so long as they get their daily dose of organic, free range hummus and chai tea.

    Reply this comment
    • SkippingDog
      SkippingDog 30 January, 2015, 13:15

      A little free range hummus and chai tea might help with your dyspepsia, D. There are now a number of European nations with a higher standard of living than that we enjoy. Why would you not want to learn something from them?

      Reply this comment

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