Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 | 2:01 a.m.
Constantly increasing vehicle fuel taxes while consumption wanes is a fool’s errand. Establishing a cumbersome and inefficient miles-traveled tax as a gas tax substitute is not realistic. Vehicle fuel taxes are necessary to provide a viable transportation infrastructure. Who benefits, who pays and by what method is the heart of the issue.
Everyone benefits from transportation subsidies, whether they own a vehicle or use public transportation. If fairness is of any concern, then nearly all transportation infrastructure funding should be via the property tax.
The rationale for obtaining transportation funding via the property tax is clear. Rent or own, children or not, your property taxes fund our public schools. A property tax dedicated to transportation is not any different, as everyone benefits.
How will a miles-driven tax accommodate the disparity between vehicle weights and sizes? The heavier the vehicle, the more fuel it consumes and road damage it causes. What about all those visitors like long-haul trucks or the 50,000 California drivers who come here every week? Should we issue them temporary miles-driven meters? No, just leave the diesel fuel tax alone and tax the hotel properties.
The gas tax increase and the miles-driven tax proposal are a slippery slope. What’s the next thing on the tax list, an excess calorie count tax at checkout counters to curb excess medical cost due to overeating? We already have the ideal replacement vehicle in place for a consolidated transportation tax, and it’s the property tax. If only we had a state Legislature that could think out-of-the-mileage-box.