While Democrats are pushing for another gas tax hike, and even a pay per mile program, members of the GOP Freedom Caucus in Olympia (Senators) have unveiled a transportation package that would not rely on the gas tax.

Senators Doug Ericksen, Phil Fortunato, Mike Padden and Jim McCune say they have a dramatically different approach. According to their Freedom Caucus release Wednesday, their plan would provide:

"... a comprehensive shift in how the state pays for transportation altogether by utilizing the existing sales tax on motor vehicles and ending the state’s reliance on the gas tax. A nonpartisan analysis done in 2019 shows that the plan would result in more than $10 billion in funding over the next decade, create tens of thousands of jobs and yield tens of billions of dollars in economic benefit for the state."

These legislators say it's time for the rest of the elected officials to realize what even citizens have known for years. As auto technology and fuel efficiency improve; people's driving habits are modified to save miles and gas, traditional revenue methods are failing.

Better gas mileage and more efficient driving seriously erodes the idea of increasing gas taxes, they just won't do it anymore. They and others say raising gas taxes stopped working years ago.

And, GOP leaders are fully against a Democratic pay per mile plan. According to the Freedom Caucus:

"A Democrat-proposed mileage tax, also known as a road usage charge, is currently in a pilot project phase in Washington. To function as a replacement for the gas-tax, Washington drivers would have to install a GPS tracker in their vehicles, which would then report miles traveled to a third-party. Freedom Caucus members warn this is an unacceptable invasion of privacy by the government and a costly one. As much as 30 percent of the collected mileage tax would go to the third-party vendor."

Senator Padden also said the mileage tax is bad for Eastern Washington, including his Spokane County district, because we drive much further distances for work, recreation and other needs; far more on average than the West side.  The Freedom Caucus plan also includes voter input by asking for a Constitutional Amendement to support these new concepts.

Given the recent wavering seen by a few Senate Democrats (including killing Inslee's Clean Buildings plan and others) this plan might have a chance to make it.

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