Don’t Volunteer to Help the Government Get Mileage Out of Your Car’s Mileage

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Electric Car Charging

[Editor’s Note: Meet our new contributor from North Orange County, Sean Cocca!  Remember, if you’d like to become one as well, just write Vern or Greg!]

In 2014, California legislators passed a bill that was signed into law by Jerry Brown which will inevitably end up charging Californian drivers a fee based on the miles they drive, as opposed to the traditional fuel tax to which we are all accustomed. The California Department of Transportation is now asking for 5,000 volunteers to help them test a pilot program to examine how a feasible it would be to actually replace the current gasoline tax with this road usage tax.

I don’t normally ask people to support causes. I’m not the type of person who goes out and campaigns for things. It’s just not my style. This time, however, I feel compelled to act. Don’t let the Department of Transportation do this. Don’t let the California legislature screw us over any more than they already do. Don’t volunteer for this. Don’t let anyone you know volunteer for this. Don’t give the government any more rope with which to hang us. This is so asinine I can’t believe it’s even being considered.

Oh wait. It’s California. Of course it’s being considered. We have some of the most idiotic legislators in the country, constantly looking for more tax revenue to fund their pet projects. There’s not enough revenue from the gas tax? Well, that’s partially because the fuel tax hasn’t been raised since the 90s. Its also because a lot more of us drive more fuel efficient cars. And why wouldn’t we? California has some of the highest gas prices in the entire country. Even now as the price of oil falls like a rock, most of California gas stations are still charging somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.50 per gallon for regular unleaded while the rest of the nation’s gas stations are struggling to keep the price above $1.00 per gallon for the same fuel grade.

Ok, that last line might have been a bit of an exaggeration. But not by much.

California has the fifth highest state gas tax in the nation – a full 10 cents above the national average – and our gas prices reflect that. Is it any wonder why many Californians have turned to high fuel efficiency vehicles – hybrids and electric cars – to offset the astronomical cost of fuel? But now it seems we are to be punished for that. We, the downtrodden citizenry of the Golden State, are to be put to the sword for attempting to survive the taxation maelstrom that is California.

Advocates of the approach say pricing can be adjusted based on time of day, whether the miles were city or rural – even the type of vehicle, which suggests how much it damages roads.”

So, essentially, all roads become toll roads. Am I reading that correctly? And how will the tax man track how many miles and at what time each of us drive every year? Will we all be made to purchase some kind of transponder? Will our cars be fitted with some kind of black box that will transmit mileage information to some central database? No possible scenario is positive. We either self-report (at which point I would encourage everyone to vastly underestimate how many miles they drive on a daily basis) or the government mandates the installation of some kind of tracking device and software in each and every vehicle driven in California.

Then there’s the issue of transportation based companies in California. Package delivery companies like UPS and FedEx, trucking companies, delivery services, small and large businesses businesses alike will be affected by this. At least they should be, right? Fair is fair. Why would private citizens pay for their mileage and not companies that use the same road? The answer is they wouldn’t. Or they shouldn’t. In any event, all this would do is make California less attractive to businesses. I certainly wouldn’t want the government putting some regulatory device on every vehicle in my fleet.

This is just another in a long line of leadership failures from our illustrious legislators. They are some of the most short-sighted buffoons in all of politics. It is a fundamental failure in planning, and they’re making us pay for it.

And really, who will this new tax affect the most? Certainly not the wealthy. No, they won’t feel the pinch. It will be the middle and working classes that feel this. It will be the ones who are forced to live in areas far from their jobs because our housing prices are so astronomical. It’ll be the guy who lives in Santa Ana who drives to 30 miles to work to support his wife and 3 kids. It’ll be the young couple who just bought their very first house in Garden Grove and commute to Diamond Bar for work. It’ll be our friends and family that are just trying to get by in a state that seems intent on putting roadblocks up at every turn.

Don’t help them do it. Do not. Californians find ways to lower their tax burden and the legislature just turns around and changes the rules to raise it back up. And forgive me if I don’t have a lot of faith in our legislative leaders actually revoking the current gas tax in favor of this road use tax. I think it’s far more likely that they would do some combination of both to maximize the tax revenue from motorists they could then siphon off into the general fund. And really, if the current gas tax isn’t enough to cover the cost of repairing the roads, don’t you think that the paltry sum of five cents a mile won’t be enough either? I can’t imagine it staying there for very long.

There is a solution to this problem, but it’s not this. Stand up to the state government for once. 


About Sean Cocca

Born and raised in Orange County, Sean graduated from CSULB with a degree in Journalism -- something he has tried (and failed) to exorcise from his life. He resides in North OC. He's grown far more politically independent over the years and staunchly refuses to join a political party. Follow him on twitter @NPPinCA.