Years of improvements in mpg ratings for all vehicles has affected fuel tax revenues. However, the Idaho Legislature penalized only hybrids $75 and electric cars $140, as if they alone caused the shortfall in highway funding. Their stuck-in-the-box logic could likely finance future highway shortfalls by taxing pedestrians and bicyclists for not paying any fuel taxes.
They said hybrid savings would equal the $75 penalty, wrong again. By 2019, a $14,000, 35 mpg nonhybrid will pay $137.14 at 32 cents/gallon fuel tax for 15,000 miles. A $26,000, 50 mpg hybrid will pay $96 in fuel taxes for the same mileage, saving only $41.14 in fuel taxes but contributing $720 extra in sales taxes. Their law penalizes environmentally minded consumers while ignoring the value of conservation.
No surprise, the Idaho Legislature also missed the real problem, road wear is mostly caused by vehicle miles and weight. Since fuel taxes for miles are diminishing due to fuel efficiency of all vehicles and current car registration fees are based upon age but not weight, the law should base registration fees on different weights, not age of vehicles.
Let’s change the law or the Legislature.
Ed Wardwell, Boise