The "terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea that just won't die" is finally dead. For now.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

For years now here at BlueOregon, we've been covering the efforts by ODOT to develop a mileage tax to replace the withering gas tax. (See "GPS tax: The terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea that just won't die".)

The good news is that, despite early momentum this session, the bill to implement a mileage tax died with the session.

Early on, the efforts at developing a mileage tax were nearly comically bad - with ODOT actually proposing to outfit every car on the road with a GPS device that would tell them where you've been, in order to calculate in-state, non-offroad miles driven - in order to tax you.

The latest iterations would either rely on authorizing commercial GPS devices (like your phone or navigation device) to report simply the mileage back or a wireless odometer device that would report mileage back to ODOT HQ on a daily or weekly basis.

While ODOT seems to have figured out that Oregonians aren't exactly keen to have their privacy obliterated, this bad idea continues to suffer from a fundamental problem: Namely, that it's designed to eliminate one of the very incentives that encourage people to buy electric and high-mileage vehicles - lower costs of usage.

As Rep. Greg Matthews noted in the Statesman-Journal:

“What would be the incentive for somebody to purchase one of these (fuel-efficient vehicles) if they have to pay more already and have to participate in a system that allows the government to come watch your vehicle?"

Instead, the Legislature passed another voluntary pilot project, this one limited to 5000 drivers.

To be sure, the revenue base for road maintenance is eroding. If it were up to me, I'd just raise the gas tax, index it to inflation, boost registration fees (esp. for heavy vehicles), ban or tax studded tires, and create more -- not less -- incentives for people to shift to high-mileage and electric vehicles.


Previously on BlueOregon:

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