Pay Per Mile Tax Full of ‘Traps,’ Say Critics
After years of debating, research and a one-year pilot program, the Washington State Transportation Commission finally voted and approved sending a pay-per-mile tax plan to the legislature. The main reason is due to more fuel efficient and electric/hybrid vehicles in our state, the gas tax is not meeting projections. By 2035 state budget officials say the incoming gas tax will be 35% below projections, or more.
During the 2020 session, which starts the third week of January, lawmakers will look over three different plans that basically accomplish the same goal: eventually replacing the gas tax, or so they say. It will be up to them which one, if any, they choose to adopt.
But Dori Monson of KIRO FM Radio in Seattle says it's like a Pandora's Box. He says the state will not eliminate the gas tax, but use the new pay per mile plan to charge extra for driving during rush hour; charge more for congested areas; and make it so it's automatically deducted from your bank account.
Some say these are far fetched claims. But he points out that the Seattle Tunnel is already pushing what's called a GoodToGo pass (it allows monitored vehicles easier faster access). He says it's part of a number of plans to get you used to having a GPS or transponder in your vehicle. It's the same idea as those auto insurance apps that track your driving to save you money.
He says state officials will tell you it's 'just going to be an annual odometer reading' at a state check in station. But Monson says that's to sell the idea. He believes transponders and GPS will actually be phased in.
So far, most opinion polls show strong mistrust and dislike for such a system.
(Dori Monson is a talk show host on KIRO FM Seattle, and a featured columnist at MyNorthwest.com).