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USA: Texas Tax and spend

An article in The Texas Tribune has many of my fellow gas canEVers up in arms over taxes. It seems a Republican state representative mentioned that increasing the registration fee on electric cars “like the Nissan Leaf” is being considered as a way to fund road construction. Currently, most of the funding of new road construction comes from the 38.4 cents of state and federal tax on a gallon of gas. Let’s think about that for a moment. The tax is per gallon of gas. We’ll come back to that…

In December 2007, President George W. Bush, signed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which set a goal for the national fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by the year 2020. This is an increase of 40% and was supported by all but four of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. I think EV owners would all agree that this is a good thing, as we’ve voted with our pocketbooks by being early adopters of super-efficient vehicles. This increase to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations is the first change in the fuel economy standard since the standard was first introduced in 1975!

In 2009, President Obama had the Department of Transportation review the CAFE standard for the 2011 model year and, believe it or not, reduced the efficiency requirement, mandated under the Bush administration, by one mile per gallon, but accelerated the improved efficiency to 35.5 MPG by 2016, instead of 35 MPG by 2020.

tax burdenNow, back to the idea of using a tax on a gallon of gas, to fund repairing and building of roads. What happens to the revenue, when the vehicles become 40% more efficient and much less gasoline is purchased? The tax revenue will plummet. In Texas, funds for construction are already said to be under great strain. I’m not sure about where you live, but in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth area, it seems like every highway is undergoing heavy modification. Construction crews are everywhere. We need them to be! Not only am I glad to see congested areas being modified to handle more traffic, but I’m glad to see we are employing lots of people in the construction industry during a time of economic hardship. We need those jobs to help end the recession! There’s no wondering why construction budgets are feeling tight.

It has been shown over the years that the American public and the American auto industry will not move toward more efficient transportation on their own. Just look around you on the road. How many large SUVs do you see that have only one passenger? We, as a people, get concerned over fuel efficiency, only when the price of gas spikes or there is a threat of foreign conflict centered around oil.
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