Now they have BS justifications stating people who don't drive much will pay a farer price instead of the flat $150 EV Tab renewal fee. The $150 EV Tab renewal fee (Does NOT apply at purchase its "renewal ONLY") consists of $100 that goes the route of the state gas tax and then $50 put towards a fund to support the public charging infrastructure. One program funded by that $50 will provide grants, low interest loans and other support for private business owners to host public charging stations. 15 new stations have been announced as a result of the fund slated for completion by Summer 2019.
Don't believe a word of the propaganda! Lets look at who the real benefactors are. First off, the WA State Gas tax (currently the 2nd highest in the Nation) billed every gasser equally. You either drove a lot, a little and the amount of gas you bought was a direct reflection of that combined with the vehicle you chose to drive. This will result in a huge increase of money out some of WA citizen's pockets into the state but who is the real benefactor?
To answer that question, lets examine the bolded phrase above. We all know that their are benefits and repercussions to EVERY decision we make including the car we drive. Washingtonians are leaders in the adoption of hybrids and electric vehicles and other options that reduces our carbon footprint. Up until recently, WA State has rewarded us for that effort. My last 4 cars have been sales tax free. Wait a second you say! "Dave you have only had 3 LEAFs?" Yep, that is true but my purchase of my 2010 Prius in May of 2009 was also sales tax free. This is a perfect example of WA progressively recognizing and rewarding the "right thing" so why the HUGE backwards step here?
In 2012 WA started a study and one thing was clearly obvious. The gas tax was not doing its job. In 2017, gas tax revenue is expected to increase .7% but highway maintenance costs will go up 2.7%. In 2016 revenues went up .9%, Maintenance 2.4%, 2015 it was .7% revenue increase, 3.1% maintenance bump. As you can see, we are falling behind rapidly every single year. So "something" had to change.
In the study, it was determined the average gasser was sucking up gas at the rate of 20.5 MPG. It doesn't take a math wizard to determine how the 2.4 miles per mile RUC came about. The cracked logic here was that EVs and others buying "less than their fair share of gas" consisting of a few percent of the cars on the road would increase revenue enough to cover the shortfall.
Anyone see a problem with this revenue model? What it does is reverses the decade long incentive program to drive more efficient vehicles in WA and penalizes everyone driving a car that gets more than 20.5 miles per gallon. Even worse, it rewards everyone driving a car that gets WORSE than 20.5 miles per gallon and that is the bigger, heavier cars that by default DO MORE DAMAGE TO THE ROADS! But the real problem is that is the ONLY increase in revenue would be from current EVers who don't pay anything more than the $100 annual tab fee into the system.
To illustrate; A Prius getting 50 mpg would pay an effective state gas tax of $1.20 per gallon (2.4 cents per mile * 50 miles) while a diesel guzzling smoking behemoth weighing nearly twice as much getting 15 mpg will pay 36 cents. Sounds good??
As bad as this is, its only the beginning of the wrongness of this program. The only thing we know for sure is that we are not paying enough to drive on the roads. So increasing something is what we need to do. A growing percentage of EVs on the road along with Priuses is lowering the income But a wholesale change of revenue collection is not free, easy or even guaranteed to be effective. From ITEP (Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy) claims gas tax collection is more than 99.5 % efficient. IOW, nearly ALL of your gas tax dollar makes it to the fund it is supposed to support. Will RUC be able to match that? Or even come close?
Also how will tourists be billed? They use the road and a random survey of license plates tells me that they use our roads A LOT! How will they pay for the use? Seems to me that loss alone is more than enough to lambast any thought of getting any extra money from the "still" minority of highly efficient vehicles on the road right now. Maybe the study should have done a survey on gas purchases by out of state travelers?
Either way, something has to go up, not stay the same as the RUC seems to do. IOW, keeping revenue the same is a failure even if it can be pulled off smoothly and efficiently. So what to do? Raising gas taxes seems like the worst thing to do but why is that?
When viewed as a percentage of families’ household budgets, state gas taxes are lower than at any point since the widespread adoption of those taxes at the end of the 1920’s. Focusing on the more recent past, ITEP found that state gas tax rates, adjusted for construction cost inflation, are a full 17 percent lower today than they were in 1990.Ok, so if we are getting such a great deal on gas taxes then where is all the money going? Who has been benefitting the most all this time? Well, guessing I don't need to answer that question. So maybe gas tax increases are the answer? This continues to force larger, less efficient vehicles AND tourists to pay more while others who chose smaller highly efficient vehicles to pay less. Isn't that what we want?
As far as EVs? We pay $100 towards the road fund now. That is a bit low. that is barely 6,000 miles in a 30 mpg car. I think that should be doubled. It still comes nowhere near the cost of gasoline so the "carrot" lives! But the reality is we shouldn't be paying as much because we are not creating the same level of damage to our environment. Different argument? Maybe but why should it be? The reality is Big Oil's grip on our legislature makes a new argument complete with legislation to address is still years away from succeeding.
As mentioned above, WA will be starting a pilot program to test RUC but lets not fool ourselves. They are doing this to iron out the kinks before instituting this program for real and we need to let our thoughts be known. Its pretty transparent who the real benefactors are here and its nothing more than another misinformation campaign by Big Oil to maintain their monstrous profits.
I am signing up and I hope you do as well.
During the pilot, you may be asked your thoughts on how more money should be collected, I would start with vehicle weight fees for any vehicle over 4,000 lbs billed in 1000 lb increments. Increasing the gas tax is also required. This is very regressive so a program to help low income drivers move into more efficient vehicles would also be a great idea. A lot of the issues we face today is our spiraling housing costs has forced many to compromise on transportation options and that means older, less efficient and poorly maintained vehicles on the road. "Cash for Clunkers" was a good idea but we should take that one step farther requiring all cars get a minimal level of gas mileage like 30+ mpg.