Saturday, September 8, 2012

Attention Hybrid Car Owners: Stop Saving Fuel, Or It Could Cost You

Instead of levying road-construction fees or taxes on vehicles by weight, or emission output, some bureaucrats and industry insiders are considering at least one breath-takingly brain-locked idea: levying a hefty fee fine on hybrid-vehicle owners because they are using less fuel and thus are supplying fewer gas tax dollars to the state road-building.

"No," you say: not even in Scott Walker's fossil-fuel worshipping, highway-happy Wisconsin could such an environmentally-and-fiscally punitive idea be under consideration.

And you would be wrong.

I've been meaning to showcase this nugget from one of Larry Sandler's comprehensive Journal Sentinel transportation stories, so here it is:

The Transportation Finance & Policy Commission, an advisory body created by the Legislature, is trying to find a way to pay for growing transportation needs at a time when state residents are driving less and turning to more fuel-efficient vehicles, cutting into the gas tax revenue that now pays much of the cost of roads and buses.

One option would be to tax drivers by miles driven instead of gas purchased, either through installing tracking devices in everyone's cars or through asking drivers to report their odometer readings, said Beth Nachreiner, the panel's staff director. That likely would raise privacy concerns, although it eventually may replace gas taxes nationwide, said Kevin Traas, director of transportation policy and finance for the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association.

Another option would be to add $75 to the annual registration fee for hybrid and electric vehicles, to recoup some of the $125 a year that their owners save on gas taxes, Nachreiner said.
So the reward hybrid owners in Wisconsin like my wife and I could receive for driving a hybrid - - we have owned a Honda Civic hybrid since 2006 - - could be a discriminatory fee increase for using less of a finite resource, and emitting fewer greenhouse gases into the air?

Why not charge a tobacco-cessation fee to people who quit smoking because they aren't paying cigarette sales taxes anymore?

Why not? Because it's a stupid idea, that's why, as counter-productively stupid as adding a whopping add-on charge to hybrid vehicle registration fees.


enoughalready said...

Great analogy with the hypothetical non-smokers tax. I have to think this hybrid tax idea is at least partly driven by hate, like most of the GOP agenda.

Betsey said...

What about owners of standard-fuel-using cars who are simply driving less because they want to save money, or can't afford the higher gas prices (and can't afford to buy a hybrid)? Can they find a way to tax/fee/fine those folks too?

Anonymous said...

I agree with this idea. Let's charge people for recycling too! And, if you buy a high efficiency washing machine, you should pay a fee for that as well, because your water bill will be less. Etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

You want a fair tax? License plate renewal at $200 and keep the current gas tax.


Replace concrete surface highways with traffic bond.

ReformedRepublicansWhoSupportPresidentObama said...

Folks, let's not be hypocritical. While it sounds like a stupid idea at first glance, stop and think about it. Road maintenance is largely paid for with gas taxes, which until recently has been a sensible and reasonable approach; you drive on the roads, you burn fuel, you pay taxes on that fuel to maintain the roads.

Okay, so now you have vehicles that put the same amount of wear and tear on the road, but use a fraction of the fuel and therefore pay a fraction of their fair share of the taxes. Where else does the shortfall get made up when the roads are full of potholes and the very same people who are complaining about the tax on their hybrids are up in arms over the amount they're spending repairing them from road damage?

Seriously folks, if you use the roads it's part of your responsibility to help with the upkeep. Frankly, we should be pleased that a government agency is taxing fairly on this. If you use it, you help pay for it....and because you help pay for it, it's there and in good repair for your use. That's the way things are supposed to work.

Anonymous said...


Same wear and tear? Really? A Prius weighs a fraction of a semi. Or a Hummer. Or a Escalade. Too many to name.