talk amongst yourselves....
Monday, July 05, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Oregon to test mileage tax as replacement for gas tax
By Eric Pryne
Seattle Times staff reporter
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Let's pretend someone waves a magic wand and turns every car into a fuel-sipping, gas-electric hybrid. What difference would it make?
The air would be cleaner.
Oil imports would drop.
And the transportation budgets of Oregon, Washington and almost every other state would deflate like a punctured balloon.
Think about it: Most money for highway construction and maintenance comes from state and federal taxes on gasoline. If people bought a lot less gas, highways would get a lot less money.
In Oregon, a state task force has concluded this scenario isn't all that far-fetched. It has proposed a possible long-term replacement for the gas tax, something no one has tried before:
A tax based on how many miles you drive.
The Oregon Road User Fee Task Force has spent two years fleshing out the concept, thinking through how such a tax might be calculated and collected. Now it's ready to test its ideas in the real world.
At the panel's request, Oregon State University researchers have developed technology that can distinguish miles driven in Oregon from those driven elsewhere, then allow a mileage tax to be calculated and paid at the pump in place of the state gas tax.
Next year, the researchers' mileage-recording devices are to be installed on 400 private cars in Eugene. Some of the volunteers will become the first people in the country to pay road taxes based not on how much fuel they burn, but on how far they travel.