Monday, June 1, 2015

Raise gas tax to fix roads

Like many states, Oregon, the first state to impose a gas tax in 1919, can't keep up with repairs to its roadways.

Of course, raising the gas tax is too simple, fair and unpopular with the oil industry, not to mention most motorists. We want well-maintained roadways, we just don't want to pay for them.

Plus, the oil lobby can buy off any legislator to thwart any increase in the statewide gas tax.

So, the Oregon Dept. of Transportation is tasked with fixing the roads with diminishing funds.

Increased mileage rates in vehicles, from hybrids to diesels to electrics, has meant a further decline in revenue to maintain the roads.

So, the "brains" at ODOT believe all those high-mileage vehicles are the culprits and want to impose a mileage tax where a Prius C owner could pay more taxes than a Cadillac Escalade driver.

To ODOT, drivers of the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Nissan Leaf or Volkswagen diesel are the reason why our roads are in such a mess. They must pay for all the damage they do to Oregon's roads.

Well, call it the Fox News approach to reality.

All the high-mileage cars in the state don't cause near the damage to our roads that a few dozen heavy trucks do on a daily basis. In fact, one loaded cement truck will do more damage than 100 hybrids.

Hybrids, along with high-mileage gas and diesel vehicles run on fuel and pay the appropriate taxes at the pump. The local daily referred to such vehicle drivers as "alternative free-loaders."

ODOT, though, only focuses on hybrids and electric vehicles.

Of the 3.3 million vehicles in this state, there are about 3,500 light-weight electric cars "tearing" up the roadways. Yes, they pay no taxes at the pump, but they more than make up for that shortcoming by not contributing to pollution or greenhouse gases. Calibrating a small tax for electric vehicles makes some sense, but it should be minuscule.

Apparently, it's news to ODOT that some diesel cars get better mileage that some hybrids. Why should hybrid car owners be penalized and not diesel car owners or other high-mileage gas vehicles?

It makes no sense.

The main problem with ODOT's short-sighted approach to highway funding, is that it rewards gas guzzlers who cause more pollution while further enriching those countries that support terrorism.

Why would ODOT want to create more support for ISIS or al Qaeda?

It is incumbent upon the state to reward good behavior while penalizing bad behavior. The heavy trucks cause almost all the damage to our roads and should pay for that damage.

The main goal is to decrease pollution, reduce wear and tear of our roadways and diminish funding for terrorists.

We need more hybrids and electric vehicles on our roads, not less.

The clear solution is to raise the gas tax on annual basis by 1 cent per gallon for all vehicles that use fuels.

The federal government has waning interest in repairing our crumbling highway infrastructure. It hasn't raised the 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax since 1993.

If we want safe roads and bridges we have to pay for them. The gas tax is the fairest way to do this.

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