Lawmaker blasts idea of mileage-based driving tax

Lawmaker blasts idea of mileage-based driving tax
Governor approved pilot project to study mileage-based tax

SACRAMENTO — Santee Assemblyman Brian Jones on Thursday blasted a bill signed by the governor late last month that moves forward the controversial idea of a mileage-based driving tax<http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/07/sb-1077-mileage-driving-fee-tax-california/?#article-copy> in California.

Senate Bill 1077<http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1077> authorizes a pilot program to explore a “road usage charge” as a potential replacement of the state gas tax.
“This will have a devastating effect if it goes any further than just a study – people will travel less, contribute to our local economy less, but the taxpayers will pay more. What’s more, people will be forced to move into urban areas, once again disenfranchising California’s rural residents,” Jones, a Republican, said in a prepared statement.
The bill has no authority to impose a charge. But just the concept a mileage-based fee, and the related idea of the government tracking one’s driving habits, has stirred concerns over privacy, fairness and excessive taxation.
Supporters of the idea say it’s necessary to explore the mileage-based charge because of California’s declining gasoline consumption and the resulting shortfall in funds used to repair and improve the state’s highways.
Caltrans estimates the pilot program will cost anywhere from $1 million to $20 million, depending on how many volunteers participate.
The bill was authored by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.
It calls for putting the pilot program in place by January 2017, using several thousand volunteers from across California who are willing to have their mileage recorded.
The volunteers would not be assessed any fees.
A 15-member panel created by the bill would guide the pilot project, study it and report findings to the Legislature by June 30, 2018.
In the Legislature, the bill was approved along party-line votes with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. San Diego County’s legislative delegation was no exception.
chris.nichols@utsandiego.com<

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