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Oregon Governor Proposes Vehicle Mileage Tax 713

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-have-nothing-to-hide dept.
tiedyejeremy writes "As covered by the Crosscut Blog, the Governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, is proposing a change in the funding of the Oregonian transportation system that drops gasoline taxes and, by way of GPS tracking, taxes the number of miles driven, to the tune of 1.2 cents per mile. The reason for the proposed change is that lower fuel consumption via fuel efficiency will leave the system underfunded. The concerns involve government tracking of the movements of vehicles within the state, though this has been denied by ODOT official, James Whitty. I'm wondering how this affects people using the Interstate System and private roads, and if the outputs can or will be used by law enforcement to check alibis."
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Oregon Governor Proposes Vehicle Mileage Tax

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  • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:39PM (#26271319)

    Except for the part where they leave the gas tax in place.

    • by Shambly (1075137) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:43PM (#26271375)
      Wouldn't increasing the gas tax thereby further increasing the value of low gas mileage vehicle be preferable? I mean doesn't this just help the pocket book of SUV driving suburbanites vs hybrid driving people?
      • by TeraBill (746791) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:54PM (#26271573)
        I agree. And it disables the incentive that the gas tax gives and it treats all mileage the same. In other words, if I'm driving a big heavy vehicle that wears the roads more than a smaller lighter vehicle, I pay the same. A tractor-trailer rig pays the same per mile as a Prius? I do understand it from the perspective of alternative fuel vehicles that are/will not pay the gas tax. We need to find alternative funding, but I don't like this solution.
        • by edittard (805475) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:12PM (#26271911)
          That plus it requires considerably more kit and labor to administer. Whether you agree with fuel tax or not, it has the advantage that it sort of collects itself.
          • by Talderas (1212466) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:25PM (#26272135)

            Well, there's two problems with the gas tax.

            1. As a road usage tax it doesn't take into consideration gas for equipment like lawn mowers and chainsaws.
            2. It doesn't take into consideration driving done on private roads or roads not maintained by the government.

            #2 is pretty big in Oregon due to the amount of logging they do. There's a lot of people who spend most of their time driving on logging trails. #2 is also the reason why GPS tracking of miles driven is dumb. It could very well count miles driven on private roads.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Chabil Ha' (875116)

              In Texas, they have the idea of farm gas. The diesel has a red dye added and you get it at a much cheaper cost than regular diesel because you aren't driving your F350 or tractor on public roads. The dye is added so that if you're caught with it and are romping around on public roads, then you get fined.

              • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:38PM (#26273679)
                In Pennsylvania, they do the reverse, the put the dye in the taxed diesel. It actually works better. It doesn't matter how much diesel the supplier has, they pay tax on a certain amount and the state monitors how much dye they use. The tricky part is that vendors who sell the untaxed stuff retail are not allowed to have pumps that are capable of dispensing directly into a vehicle (primarily accomplished by making the hose too short to reach).
            • As an Oregon resident, I'll state my preference for a higher gas tax for just these reasons.

              A gas tax simply aligns with the public externalities of motor vehicles a lot better than just milage, since bigger cars cause more wear. There's no incentive for buying less damaging vehicles this way. Also, gas taxes are easy to collect, while this is more complex. Net revenue will be reduced by the cost of monitoring, plus there's the initial capital cost of getting the whole thing set up.

              And while all taxes cause some distortion in the market, it's best to pick ones where the distortion is the least painful or disruptive, or otherwise aligned with society goals. Reducing petroleum imports and carbon emissions are both clear public goals. If consumption is going down, the tax is doing what it should, and so the best thing to do is to raise it to maintain the incentive to get smaller, more efficient vehicles that we saw last summer.

              Since governments at all levels need funding, higher gas taxes seem like one of the best options. And a high tax sets a minimum on gas prices, and so a floor for how inefficient a vehicle people are willing to take. A $0.50 gallon tax, split evenly between states and the fed, would pay for a whole lot of economic recovery, give a stable floor to the value of alternative energy, and still be way cheaper than it was a few months ago. Right now, we're seeing state governments cutting services and payroll at the very time we need an expansionist policy nationwide to avoid deflation. The net effect is the federal government will need to borrow and spent even more money to balance out the state cuts before we can even start climbing out of the hole (if state payrolls drop by 500K, that means the fed employment target from the stimulus plan needs to be 3.5M, not 3.0M, to have the same effect).

              I'd much rather see our governor recommend raising the gas tax by $0.25, drop this milage/GPS nonsense, and restore funding to education, get the new I-5 bridge started, etcetera.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ibbey (27873)

              I have to say that those are about the poorest justifications against the tax I can imagine... First, #1 is just silly. Even if you are a professional landscaper or gardener, it's unlikely that you are using enough gas in your lawnmowers and chainsaws to really be a significant concern. And since the cost of the fuel you use should be a deductible expense, the net tax you pay is negligible. If you are not a professional, you probably use less than 10 or 20 gallons of gasoline (for most people MUCH less) per

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by im_thatoneguy (819432)

              #1 is idiotic. When I grew up I always mowed the lawn with a riding lawn mower. It took about 2 gallons per mow for a several acre property. I go through more gas than that every couple of days in my car and I don't drive that much. The amount of Gas that goes into a container vs a vehicle is probably 1/100th the fuel sales. Hardly worth investing in expensive taxation infrastructure for the mass majority of the customers.

              #2 is also stupid because those customers aren't spending money on gas taxes as i

        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:18PM (#26274561) Homepage Journal
          But, taxes should NOT be used to manipulate behavior....that's a bastardization of what a tax is for.

          It should only be collected at the minimum level for govt. to provide infrastructure and defense (mostly fed) and the like. I think a lot of the tax for behavior is what keeps us collecting and paying too many taxes today. It isn't supposed to be a means of behavior modification....that is just as bad as the Feds. using tax revenues as blackmail to make the states do certain things. It certainly isn't any better levelling them at individuals for behavior.

          And look..this is an example of it backfiring. Ok..so, the current gas taxes and pricing...cut people intake of gas...but, now, the govt. is so hooked on tax money..they have to move to figure a new way to keep the revenue coming in. In this case...the behavior was changed...but, the tax didn't disappear. This cycle happens over and over.

          I don't mind everyone paying a tax to keep the roads up and going...that is what it is for...how much you use it, does seem fari.

          However, I really don't want them to start mandating GPS's on cars like this proposal...too easy for the govt.to track yet another datum of the people.

          I'm for a fair tax to pay for infrastructure, but, not something that allows more govt. snooping...and I won't want them to tax to change behaviors...

      • by Animaether (411575) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:00PM (#26271671) Journal

        Well that's the point, isn't it... well, maybe.

        Not sure about the USA, but in NL you pay all sorts of taxes on gas (one of the highest in the world) + a road use tax. Both go toward, among other, road maintenance as well.

        As cars get more efficient in terms of gas use, the gov't wallet slims down.. but given the same car in terms of e.g. weight, footprint (literal - i.e. tires-on-road), it doesn't matter whether you're super-efficient or the worst gas guzzler in the world... you're still putting the same wear-and-tear on that road. Ergo, they have to..
        A. increase gas prices more
        B. increase road use taxes more
        C. create a new (context-dependent) per-mile (kilometer) tax
        D. go with a bit of A, drop B and implement C -and- add an entirely new tax that -everybody- pays.. whether you actually drive a car or not, as dropping B does not get compensated enough by A and C.

        Of course they spin this as a positive thing, as those who drive a lot will now pay more, while those who drive say 20,000km/year will be off much cheaper... thanks in part to those driving 0km/year helping pay. ho hum.
        ( not that I'm fervently opposed to it - my goods are delivered by road, so even if I don't travel on it.. transport companies do - but I was under the impression I already paid for transportation cost by paying for the product. hmpf. )

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          As cars get more efficient in terms of gas use, the gov't wallet slims down.. but given the same car in terms of e.g. weight, footprint (literal - i.e. tires-on-road), it doesn't matter whether you're super-efficient or the worst gas guzzler in the world... you're still putting the same wear-and-tear on that road.

          But taxing by the mile may be less reflective of wear and tear on the road than taxing by the gallon. You see, the larger the vehicle, the more wear and tear. This also correlates to some degree with the gas used by the vehicle. Huge SUVs cause more wear because of their weight and at the same time tend to use more gas. Ditto for cargo trucks and semis. Since gas used reflects the umber of miles travelled as well, this seems like a tax that would financially discourage transport companies and individuals fr

    • It's either/or: If the gas pump detects your GPS computer, it charges you $.012/mile. Otherwise it charges you $.25/gallon. Or thereabouts, I haven't heard what the new gas tax portion is going to be.
       
      Oh, and also it's only on NEW cars- old cars are grandfathered into the gas tax.

      • Oh, and also it's only on NEW cars- old cars are grandfathered into the gas tax.

        Which is why I hope to drive my 1990 300zx until I die

      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:56PM (#26271615)

        Oh, and also it's only on NEW cars- old cars are grandfathered into the gas tax.

        I wonder then if there would be any penalty to hacking the device (for the technophiles) or just ripping the GPS out (for the less technically inclined) of a newer vehicle to avoid the privacy issues. I don't want to be tracked, and it seems like the more fuel efficient cars would fare better by the gas tax method anyways.

        Besides: why are we pushing legislation that puts gas guzzlers and fuel efficent hybrids back onto even footing when it comes to taxes? Shouldn't tax rates ENCOURAGE fuel efficient vehicles? If underfunding is the problem just raise the gas tax to make up for it.

  • Uh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cr4wford (1030418) <(kvcrawford) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:40PM (#26271331) Homepage
    I thought encouraging fuel efficiency is a good thing?
  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:41PM (#26271347) Journal

    Why just use the fancy new technology called an odometer [wikipedia.org]? Check it every time you renew your registration and collect the fees at that time.

    • by tripdizzle (1386273) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:44PM (#26271385)
      Because you can turn those back, at least on older cars, on the newer ones that might get reported to the black box, but I know people who can disconnect those too. Looks like its an arms race between motorists and state gov'ts.
    • by tilandal (1004811) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:44PM (#26271393)

      Or they could just... increase the gas tax. I know. Its a maverick idea.

      • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:55PM (#26271593) Homepage

        Or they could just... increase the gas tax. I know. Its a maverick idea.

        With the added benefit of taxing gas-hogs proportionally higher - works for me.

    • Odometer can break or be manipulated with--right now, mine is stuck on my car.

      This is just flat-out scary, though. For one, the government is trying more and more technological means to tax us--a lot of the more left democrats here are probably quite comfortable with that, though--and two, the privacy concerns are pretty obvious (although, again, make take a back seat for us to "progress" as a society so wonderful social programs can be implemented).

    • by zulater (635326)
      Because the residents don't necessarily do all of their driving in Oregon.
    • by Flying Scotsman (1255778) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:46PM (#26271415)

      Why just use the fancy new technology called an odometer? Check it every time you renew your registration and collect the fees at that time.

      Odometers don't track in-state mileage versus out-of-state mileage. The article isn't clear on if that matters to the plan here (it might only tax in-state driving, for example), but there's this little snippet about the test run:

      A GPS-based system kept track of the in-state mileage driven by the volunteers. When they bought fuel, a device in their vehicles was read, and they paid 1.2 cents a mile and got a refund of the state gas tax of 24 cents a gallon.

      • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:04PM (#26271755) Homepage

        A GPS-based system kept track of the in-state mileage driven by the volunteers. When they bought fuel, a device in their vehicles was read, and they paid 1.2 cents a mile and got a refund of the state gas tax of 24 cents a gallon.

        So, this only benefits people who get less than 20mpg - since my car [mangocats.com] gets about 24mpg on average, I think I'd rather save the money _and_ keep my privacy intact.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pyrion (525584)

        24 cents a gallon vs 1.2 cents a mile.

        For the best mileage of my car (~400 miles on 13 gallons) that's $4.80 vs $3.12 (at 24 cents a gallon). A 52.5% increase in the gas tax, essentially.

        See, they could just increase the gas tax by 50% or thereabouts but they'd look like the bad guys. This way they get away with "abolishing the gas tax" which looks great on TV but not so great on a calculator.

    • Why just use the fancy new technology called an odometer?

      Because by car you can easily drive to other states?

      Why should Oregon collect the money for time spent on non Oregon roads?

      Use of a GPS ensures they get tax money for time spent on Oregon roads. Not that it's in any way a good idea, as it does not account for drivers from other states making sue of Oregon roads... That's the advantage of a gas tax, it more or less captures money for the state from most people making use of state roads.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by thesupraman (179040)

        Why not? if you buy your fuel in state A and drive around in state B isnt that exactly what happens now?

        This is of course pointless, GPS is VERY easy to jam, and moderately easy to supply fake data to.

        It would also cost a LOT of build a suitable 'protected' and robust system and install it into all the cars, of course guess who would end up carrying that additional 'tax'

        Just put up the damn fuel tax already, if more money is really required, or more sensibly fire some idiots.

    • As others have stated - so they can charge you different taxes based on where you are/went. In the case of the USA, that might be state-wise. In the case of NL (where they intend to launch this starting 2012), it's so they can charge you more if you drive during rush hour, more if you take the busy roads, more if you're down town (when you could have parked at the edge and taken a shuttle bus instead), etc.
      Plus.. they get to track your vehicle. We see that as privacy invasions, 'they' see that as a great

      • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:17PM (#26271981)
        As others have stated - so they can charge you different taxes based on where you are/went. In the case of the USA, that might be state-wise. In the case of NL (where they intend to launch this starting 2012), it's so they can charge you more if you drive during rush hour, more if you take the busy roads, more if you're down town (when you could have parked at the edge and taken a shuttle bus instead), etc.

        I know someone at the Uni who was involved in the initial testing for this system. What you say is the main reason why GPS instead of odometer. If you drive in downtown Portland during peak hours, you will pay through the nose. If you drive all your miles in Valley Junction, you will pay a lot less. Also, off-road use is supposed to be tax-free, and currently you have to file for a rebate of those taxes to get your money back at the end of the year.

        My friend could simply not understand that paying rates based on time/location means logging driving times and locations as well as miles, and that this data could easily be used to track people and be used against them for all sorts of things. Insurance companies would love this, as well as cops and all sorts of other investigators. "Well, well, Mrs. Lincoln, we see the GPS in your car shows you meeting with a Mr. Booth ..."

        ODOT, of course, is denying that any logging will take place. Flat out. Won't happen. They know what chance this has of working of they admit the obvious, and too many people don't understand technology well enough to know what has to happen for the magic to take place. Even my friend, an otherwise very smart engineer and all around nice woman, doesn't get it. Why would Joe Smith?

    • by duranaki (776224)
      I was going to post that, damn you! Ok, well to play devil's advocate.. they can't use odometer readings because it deprives them the ability to further the police state.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      Why just use the fancy new technology called an odometer?

      I'm a hypothetical Oregon resident with a big farm. I put 5,000 miles on a truck driving around on the farm, hauling hay, etc. Never once have I been on public property, but ever mile has been inside the state borders. How much do I pay?

  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:42PM (#26271367) Homepage Journal

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  • by Mark Programmer (228585) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:42PM (#26271369) Homepage

    It seems to me that if you tax a staple good, and people will be consuming less of that staple good due to an increase in efficiency... meaning you'll bring in less money from those taxes...

    Then you raise the tax. What's the downside? It's not like people are going to consume less gas if the tax goes up.

    Arguably, cranking the tax could also lead to people holding onto junker cars for sentimental reasons replacing them or repairing their engines. So really, it's win-win.

    • It seems to me that if you tax a staple good, and people will be consuming less of that staple good due to an increase in efficiency... meaning you'll bring in less money from those taxes...

      Yup, its called Laffer's Curve

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:50PM (#26271497)

      Then you raise the tax. What's the downside? It's not like people are going to consume less gas if the tax goes up.

      Actually, it's exactly like that. When the price of gas was up summer travel plummeted which impacted tourist destinations everywhere, even stuff in the same state where most of the visitors came from. Also less needed visits like mall visits or museum visits go down, as people cut back on non-essential travel.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That is a very good point. My original question disregarded non-essential travel, imagining fuel as a fixed-consumption good. This is what I meant when I referred to it as a 'staple;' I'm unfortunately failing to recall the term for a good with an inflexible rate of consumption.

        However, even though fuel is not fixed-consumption, it seems that this policy would also depress travel; taxing the mileage should discourage people from traveling in a similar way to taxing the fuel.

        A better question would b

    • by Myopic (18616) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:50PM (#26271501)

      Yes. This solution is so glaringly obvious that there must be some sinister reason they are ignoring it. I mean, seriously? You're going to go with a fancypants expensive satellite-based high-tech solution requiring lots of new legislation, training, infrastructure, and other costs, not to mention the overwhelming privacy violation -- instead of just raising the tax a little bit? What, seriously? I call shenanigans.

      • Just the beginning. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by swordfishBob (536640) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:15PM (#26271945)

        Add a few more players to the game, and you get:
        - A national system of tollways, with microcharging so it's useable on roads of any size
        - A billing system for parking stations, event parking, or even roadside parking at all in city zones
        - Ability to charge more for certain roads during peak periods (like a congestion tax)
        - A speed tax?

    • by Zordak (123132) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:15PM (#26271957) Homepage Journal

      What's the downside? It's not like people are going to consume less gas if the tax goes up.

      Gas is not that inelastic. When the price of gas hit $4/gal., I got a bus pass. There's a park-and-ride right by my house, and the express goes straight downtown to where I work. And I now spend 25 minutes each way on leisure reading rather than fighting traffic. Now that gas is cheap, I still ride the bus. Basically, whoever decided to put on the squeeze made a permanent convert. I probably won't ever go back to driving myself. Between gas and parking, I save $200 to $300 a month and I save myself lots of trouble.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Over here in Europe we have seen the advantage of high gas prices lately. When the barrels went from $40 to $160 (up 400%) our gas at the pump went up from CHF 1.4 to CHF 2.0 (up 40%). Still a hike, but not something to change economics of driving dramatically. The high taxes, besides funding decent roads and non-collapsing bridges, provide a nice cushion against the volatility of the oil market.

      Of course, due to the higher price level our cars are in general smaller and more economical anyway.

      Markus

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:43PM (#26271373)

    Then they pay you.

  • <sarcasm> why not bump the registration fee for high-efficiency cars so people will buy the gas-guzzlers instead? That'll teach people to go green in Oregon!</sarcasm>

  • by uncreativeslashnick (1130315) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:45PM (#26271397)
    Here's a crazy idea. Instead of raising taxes in a tough economy, how about you do what everyone else is doing and tighten belt and reduce spending? Nah, you're right, that will never work...
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raftpeople (844215) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:45PM (#26271403)
    How about letting us pump our own gas first, then work on this high-tech stuff.
    • by 77Punker (673758)

      But hiring pump attendants creates jobs! Jobs for people that are specially trained to dispense DANGEROUS flammable liquids! Not just anybody can do that!

      Lots and lots of special jobs that pay less than a living wage, that is...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grahamd0 (1129971)

        I always thought it was hilarious that Oregon forbids people from pumping their own gas to create jobs, and also allows truckers to pull two trailers.

        You'd think promoting jobs for truck drivers, who can earn a decent living, would be more effective than inventing jobs for gas station attendants.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:45PM (#26271409) Homepage

    The problem is, fuel efficient cars weigh less, and therefore do less damage to the road.

    Thus a gasoline tax is actually better at putting many of the costs on the actual source: heavier, less efficient vehicles. As a bonus, fuel taxes encourage smaller, lighter, more efficient cars which are better for society in the long run.

    • by jefu (53450) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:12PM (#26271899) Homepage Journal

      I have heard (but can't seem to verify via google etc) that road damage goes up with the fourth power of vehicle weight, with the square of the speed and (naturally) linearly with miles travelled. So, to get people to pay proportional to the amount of road work needed, if I pay $1 for my car, a semi (with reasonable assumptions about speed and miles travelled) should be paying $500,000 or more - the weight is by far the largest factor and when multiplied by number of miles travelled gets big quickly. For lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles the numbers would be even larger.

      This kind of tax, then, would penalize most drivers and essentially subsidize the trucking industry even more than is currently the case.

  • Funny, my state-mandated GPS receiver seems to be on the fritz. No, I don't know how that antenna cable came to be severed. Maybe it accidentally got mashed in the door ...

    As noted previously, an odometer would serve the "mileage tax" purpose without the unnecessary oversight of GPS position tracking. Just read the damned thing whenever you bring the vehicle in for emissions testing.
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:49PM (#26271475)
    FTFS:

    I'm wondering how this affects people using the Interstate System and private roads, and if the outputs can or will be used by law enforcement to check alibis.

    Let me get this straight. In a move straight from Orwell, they want to track every vehicle in the state for the purposes of getting more taxes out of people, and you're concerned about whether it can be used for alibis and whether there's a hole in the technical details?

    I've got a few problems with this. My first reaction to the statement about more efficient cars is that they shouldn't be punishing people for buying those cars. More efficient cars are also the ones which do the least damage to the environment and the surfaces they drive on since they tend to weigh much less than the alternatives. Punishing those people for being efficient doesn't make sense. A better measure would be to raise the taxes on gasoline. One year ago the price was over double what it is now. Even adding $.50 or $1 to the tax wouldn't bring the prices to what they were.

    My next objection would be the costs of the system. The infrastructure would cost a lot of money, it would raise the cost of cars sold in Oregon and also cost the state money in terms of fighting the inevitable legal battles which may render the system entirely worthless. It seems like a gross misuse of funds.

    Finally, the philosophical objections. Inevitably, many people will have access to this information, and the abuses are many. They range from the government using it to track people to as simple as a stalker knowing where his victim is at all times. At the very least it would raise concerns with police abuses.

    Overall, there is no way that this proposal is a good idea.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:49PM (#26271483) Homepage Journal

    The amount of damage done to a road by a passing vehicle is a geometric? exponential? function of the weight of the vehicle. For instance, say a road will fail if a 100,000 pound vehicle drives over it. In that case, a 120,000 pound truck would do much more damage than two 60,000 trucks. At the low end, you reach a point where no damage is done at all. It's not possible to ruin a modern highway with bicycles, for example.

    So you're justified in taxing vehicles proportionally to their weight, since more weight means more damage, which means more expensive repairs. Conveniently enough, gas mileage is a useful proxy for vehicle weight: the heavier they are, the more gas tax they pay per mile.

    I have no love for Priuses, but it's insane to tax them the same as someone in a semi truck. There are two possible explanations that don't involve Gov. Kulongoski being a stark moron:

    • This is a concession to the trucking industry or people who have to pay them, such as lumber companies who want to reduce transportation costs, or
    • Big Brother can't wait to get here.

    Any Oregonians have insight on the matter?

  • My vehicle doesn't have an integral GPS system. If I lived in Oregon, how would they then track MY mileage? Would they require by law that my vehicle be retrofitted with a GPS system? Who would pay for that? Would they require that I pay for it out of pocket?

    Above issues aside, this tax might make some efficiency and environmental sense: people might think twice about making unnecessary trips altogether, or make a more concerted effort (as I do) to delay some trips until I can combine them with other er

  • Most likely the state gets much of it's revenue from gas taxes. He's talking about weakening Oregon by forcing citizens to drive less. And how about those that drive though the state from other states such as WA and CA? Time to vote in a new Governor.

  • Define vehicle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by baffled (1034554) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:52PM (#26271537)
    What about my moped? My bicycle? Are you going to tax me when I go jogging?

    Oh my, a mileage tax causes such warm and fuzzy feelings.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dogmatixpsych (786818)
      "(if you drive a car...I'll tax the street; (if you try to sit...I'll tax your seat; (if you get too cold...I'll tax the heat; (if you take a walk...I'll tax your feet."

      The Beatles nailed it 40 years ago.
  • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:53PM (#26271551)
    If something like this were implemented, trucking companies who happen to be based in Oregon would suddenly find themselves elsewhere, with their trucks registered as being owned in other states. The state would lose a chunk of commercial revenue off of this, AND have to deal with higher prices to ship stuff into the state.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:53PM (#26271559) Homepage

    The concerns involve government tracking of the movements of vehicles within the state, though this has been denied by ODOT

    That will last as long as it takes to process the first subpoena, if that. There is no way this won't be abused. If Oregon has vehicle inspection, then why not just use odometer checks instead? Or check the odometer reading when they renew their tags. You don't need GPS for that. Lower the tax per mile and don't worry about whether the miles were in Oregon or not. A penny a mile is like $1,000 on the life of most cars. It can't pay to run some kind of GPS tracking system for that.

  • Tax Circus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:00PM (#26271681) Journal

    Oregon is a circus of strange tax experiments. OR's income tax rates are relatively high (9%), but they do not have a sales tax. Discussions about introducing a sales tax are non-starters, as there are so many changes that multiple parties object. Economic gains/losses are magnified due to this, as the employment numbers rise/fall, but out-of-state shopper populations change on different cycles.
      There is also a "kicker" that is given back when state revenue from taxes exceeds the estimate (budget) by 2% or more. But then the state spends about 1.3$million on mailing individual checks, tracking people down, etc - instead of simply putting tax credits on the books for the next year.
      There have been serious talks about taxing/licensing bicycles due their use of roads (no idea if its by wheel, weight, speed, rider's age, etc). Portland, OR has a large population of cyclists that intermingle with cars on many local roads.
      The state has a huge income disparity between urban and rural districts, and thus pools its school funding monies for dispersal but other statistics, which creates lots of friction all around.
      Property taxes go up, but there are endless initiatives to deny funding increases to social services, since they are under constant accusal of being bloated. The truth depends on what you define as adequate social servicing.

      See the Oregon Tax Revolt [wikipedia.org] for some info.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:02PM (#26271709)
    Sure. I knew you could.

    This would replace a very fair and workable system (gasoline taxes), with an intrusive, costly, potentially abusive system that probably would not work well anyway.

    Did all the politicians in this country take a bunch of stupid pills or something?
  • farcical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eil (82413) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:19PM (#26272021) Homepage Journal

    This is such a thinly-veiled farce it's not even funny.

    First off, the premise that people are dropping their gas guzzlers for fuel-efficient vehicles is just plain wrong. Where I live, huge trucks and SUVs are still all the rage for highway commuters. Cars are still very much in the minority on the roads and I haven't seen any evidence that consumers are migrating to economy cars in any significant numbers, even with the insane gas prices we saw this year. The prices were high enough to be an inconvenience and give SUV owners something to complain about on their way to Starbucks, not enough to cause people to trade in their status symbols for something economical.

    Second, I hate it that when one tax revenue stream starts to lower somewhat, the first thing politicians try to do is find something else to tax instead of looking at where they can reduce spending.

    Third, as others have pointed out, there are much easier ways of tracking individual vehicle mileage that don't severely impinge on civil liberties. Mark my words, this is a surveillance program first and a taxation program second. Just like the purpose of OnStar isn't as much for life-or-death emergencies (as you hear on the commercials) as it is for tracking the car if/when the police become interested in it.

  • by starglider29a (719559) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:50PM (#26272445)
    "If you drive a car, I'll tax the street."
    --
    Taxman
    The Beatles
    Revolver

    Seriously, people. Have we failed somewhere in transmitting the message that the Beatles song is *satire* and Orwell's DYS-topia is a *warning*!? It's not a cook book for Governments to follow to do that voodoo that they do!

    Oh, that's a great idea. So THAT's how we can do that and get away with it! Now, how do we tax their feet?

  • by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @06:04PM (#26272681)
    I don't understand why they need to use GPS? Oregon is Self-serve only. Just have the attendant get the odometer reading and enter it into a wireless handset with the license plate and let the DMV store the data with their last odometer reading, and you'd only need 1 row in the database, which has to be a lot cheaper and a lot less invasive, cheaper to implement and would have a real "reason" for OR to be self-serve only than what this guy is thinking.

    All that being said, I still think it is a stupid idea.
  • by mmeister (862972) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:50PM (#26273793)

    Since hybrids are much lighter (to help achieve better gas mileage), they have much less wear on the road than an SUV.

    This miles traveled argument sounds "fair" when you first hear it, but the only benefit it brings is the ability for the State (and Feds) to be able to track every movement of your car. This is a bad idea. The Constitution has already been shit upon for the last 8 years. I am no longer confident it would protect me from abuse by the State Gov't and Feds.

    States are always looking to find new ways generate revenue from their citizens. I would first like a better accounting of where all the current money is being spent. It may all be valid, but they sure are generating a lot of revenue already.

  • Sounds like a plan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dheltzel (558802) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:30PM (#26274681)

    1. Give 20 million to your political cronies for "R & D" on the new tax.
    2. Generate publicity that creates a huge public furor over privacy issues.
    3. Wait until even your fiscally conservative opponents are railing that you should just increase the fuel tax.
    4. Make a big deal about "listening to the people", then cancel the unworkable plan, raise taxes and make everyone happy.
    5. Profit!

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