Gasoline purchases down; California Dems now want to tax by the mile, not the gallon

Gasoline purchases down; California Dems now want to tax by the mile, not the gallon

[Ed. – (Unprintable.)]

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.

Brown gave no specifics. But last fall he signed a law that set up a commission to study a “road usage charge” and establish a pilot program by Jan. 1, 2017. The 15-member commission had its first meeting on Friday in Sacramento.

The idea is far from reality, but it’s raising a hornet’s nest of practical and political questions, from how government would track the miles to what happens when people drive out of state or on private roads.

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