HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A potential new tax to help pay for Governor Malloy’s massive transportation plans has started a firestorm of activity on the internet. A special committee he appointed to find a way to pay for the improvements is looking at a new tax on the number of miles you drive in a year.
The Governor’s Transportation Finance Panel has not yet decided what it’s going to recommend to pay for the Governor’s big plans, but they’re looking to other states to see what new funding plans could work. In a test program in Oregon, volunteer drivers are paying a tax on the number of miles they drive as measured by GPS, and they get credit against the state gas tax.
“I think it’s something we want to look at. It’s, you know, the technology is still being ‘piloted’ and developed and studied, but it could be very efficient,” said Cameron Staples, the chairman of the panel.
For raising money, the beauty of a “mileage tax” as opposed to tolls is that it would spread the cost across all drivers, not just those who chose a particular highway. Even with this explanation, people we spoke with are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea.
“I have a problem with it because I think that we’re already taxed enough in this state,” said Andrea Fagan of Meriden.
“I don’t like it,” said Jay Johnson of Ellington. “It’s just another administrative burden that they’re going to have to, you know, deal with.”
“I would say that’s a little excessive. We already have a bunch of taxes in the state of Connecticut,” said Rachel Agruso of South Windsor.
Reaction here on WTNH.com was bit more blunt, but also contained some important points.
“So the blue collar workers who have to live far away from the white collar towns they work at could be taxed extra, simply because they cannot afford to live closer to their jobs?” Millie wrote.
“So glad my car is registered out of state,” wrote Pete. “I read a story on these types of mileage taxes and they don’t apply to out of state vehicles.”
“Up the gas tax,” Kev posted. “It’s the exact same thing as a mileage tax without the cost and complexity.”
The Governor’s office steered clear of discussing the “mileage tax” Thursday, but the chairman of his special panel says they have no choice given how much money the transportation projects will cost.
“If you look at the sheer magnitude of the projected costs of $100 billion, there’s no question you need a whole range of revenue options on the table. No one of them is going to solve this problem,” said Staples.
The panel has to move pretty quickly. They are expected to make their decision on what’s the best way to pay for the Connecticut transportation rebuild by October, then the Governor will have to sell it to the public and to state lawmakers.