To the disappointment of many Washingtonians; especially, in rural Washington, the State is one step closer to replacing the state gas tax with a new system where drivers are tracked and charged on a per-mile basis.
This week, the Washington State Transportation Commission voted to forward 16 recommendations for a road usage charge to the Washington Legislature, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Federal Highway Administration.
Elected Officials from Seattle are already trying to find ways to use the money for mass transit projects in Seattle and King County.
Rural Washingtonians that drive longer distances for services and employment are going to be disproportionately impacted by a Road Usage Charge. The tax is intrusive by monitoring residents and punishing them for seeking opportunities in rural communities. Privacy and Commonsense went out the car window on this policy.
Washington and other states face a funding problem with more electric cars, hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles generating less gas tax revenue. The gas tax does not automatically keep pace with inflation or rise and fall with changes in gas prices.
For many years, Government has encouraged energy efficiency! Now, Government is doing a 180 Degree turn. The policy punishes both individuals for seeking energy efficient vehicles and businesses for seeking transportation cost savings.
Gas taxes are the state’s biggest transportation funding source, accounting for 39 percent of revenue. According to the transportation commission, Washington residents pay an average of $225 in gas taxes for every 12,000 miles they drive.
Over the past seven years, about 2,000 drivers have participated in a pilot project driving more than 15 million miles to test a mock road usage charge of 2.4 cents per mile. According to Transportation officials, road usage charges could be tracked in several ways, including odometer readings and GPS devices.
The Road Usage Charge will cost Washingtonians more money and more freedom. The pilot project evidenced that drivers would pay more per year with a tax on each mile driven and will be tracked inside and outside of the State of Washington. I urge our lawmakers- if the RUC passes- protect the money as a user fee and do not allow it to be syphoned off to mass transit and unrelated programs.