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IronTiger

Let's do away with the gas tax!

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OK, so I read a few more forums, and in at least one I lurk, and there was a discussion that talked rather harshly about bicycles (Critical Mass, in particular), which argued that bicycles do not have a "right to the road" since roads are paid with gas taxes and bicycles don't pay them, making them worthless freeloaders. Now, any issues on Critical Mass aside, that is a wrong statement since city streets aren't paid with gas taxes (that's highways)*

 

 

(* If I'm correct/incorrect in saying that city streets aren't affected by gas taxes, tell me)

 

 

But it brings up an interesting point, while bicycles aren't freeloaders on city streets since they don't pay gas taxes, electric cars on highways are. Since the gas tax would need to be raised dramatically to repair the highways and adjust for inflation, and no one wants to see all toll highways, why not create some sort of alternative gas tax that could be used to maintain freeways where every car pays their share? (plus the fact that a move toward more fuel efficient cars creates less income for the gas tax)

 

So a few ideas I had included...

 

- Creating a new fee for drivers license renewals...and if you pay more, you can bypass the DMV entirely! (Disadvantages: out of state traffic become freeloaders)

- Keep everything as is, but create new fees for electric cars (Disadvantages: new tax stigma, looks discriminatory toward electrics, hybrid cars still get away with it)

- Local counties pay a new fee for how many miles of highways, and TX vehicles get gas tax rebates (Disadvantages: counties with more highways pay more, and rebates can be taken advantage of illegally) 

- Utility companies give portion of funds to highway maintenance (Disadvantages: while electric/hybrid cars still would end up "contributing", might cause local utility bills to rise)

- A tire tax, as that affects everyone and vehicles pay for that for how much they damage the road, that way 18 wheelers pay more (Disadvantages: encourages out of state buying, possible black market for tires)

 

 

Obviously, some of them are better than others...I would personally favor the second one. The first one looks good on paper but it sounds like it would create more problems than it solves, the third one would just complicate things, the fourth one looks like it would hurt everyone, the fifth one has some good ideas but is fundamentally flawed.

 

I decided to post in the Way Off Topic section instead of the Traffic/Transportation forum, because the latter seems to be inviting trouble.

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What about a tax based on curb weight? A bus or a big rig causes more wear and tear on highways than a car. Though I could see the trucking and busing industry coming out against that hard, and probably doing well in their fight against it given the lobbyists. Not to mention the soundbites that would inevitably come. "These commie socialists want to tax you into driving front wheel drive compact cars and take away your God given right to your dually. Just say no!"

Edited by JLWM8609
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Back in the day you did pay more registration fees to drive that big SUV or pickup. I would love to see that return. It won't ever happen with our fat cat politicians though. 

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What about a tax based on curb weight? A bus or a big rig causes more wear and tear on highways than a car. Though I could see the trucking and busing industry coming out against that hard, and probably doing well in their fight against it given the lobbyists. Not to mention the soundbites that would inevitably come. "These commie socialists want to tax you into driving front wheel drive compact cars and take away your God given right to your dually. Just say no!"

I agree, the big trucks DESTROY the roads constantly, even after a few weeks of patching/repairs, they are back to the giant holes they were before.

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I think we should be encouraging electric as much as possible... so a tax on them would be bad. Vehicle weight is the most fair. It would encourage people to drive smaller vehicles and may even lead to safer roads with fewer large suvs and pickups flying around.

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Overall, the gas tax covers less than half of highway improvement budget on a yearly basis.

 

I'd like to see a couple of things:

 

1. engine output: the more power the car makes, the higher your yearly registration.

2. vehicle weight: the more your car weighs the more you pay.

3. increase the gas tax, there has to be a way without monitoring where people are driving to make heavy users pay more.

 

The good thing about 1 and 2, is it's not that regressive against poor people. they are likely to buy older cars, and less powerful cars, so they would have lower tax obligation.

 

that might just get us close to covering the highway budget.

 

as far as local roads..

property/sales tax pays for local roads so there's no worries in most cases, in fact the impact that bicycles have on local roads is infinitesimal compared to a bloated SUV. Yeah, the road systems help the cyclist, cause his bike probably was shipped using a truck, the food he gets at the grocery store came from a truck, but so did the guy using that bloated SUV... Bicycle riders are paying more than their fair share, and usually we do it without complaining about drivers not paying their fair share.

Edited by samagon

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But the bigger question is whether any of the lawmakers in the TX State Legislature have the political guts to push for a statewide constitutional amendment on the ballot ?

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