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Mileage tax study returns with new bill

A bill to study a possible tax on the number of miles Connecticut residents drive has returned after the Senate unanimously voted against the idea in 2017.

Sponsored by Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield, who serves on the Transportation Committee, the bill would authorize Connecticut’s Department of Transportation to “study and participate in federal pilot programs regarding a mileage-based user fee on motor vehicles operated on state highways.”

The new bill comes as Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund faces a near-term deficit due to revenue losses related to the pandemic and fewer commuters purchasing gasoline, the largest source of funding for the state’s transportation needs. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy pushed for Connecticut to participate in a $300,000 federal study in 2015. Participation in the study came as a shock to members of the Transportation Committee, led to public backlash. Participation in the study was eventually scrapped by CT DOT Commissioner James Redeker.

The mileage tax – known as Vehicle Miles Traveled Fees – is currently under study by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center and involves 12 cities, according to the FHWA. The mileage tax would be assessed by a GPS transponder in the vehicle which records the number of miles driven.

A 2015 study of public opinion on a mileage tax conducted by the National Academy of Sciences noted there were 26 states at the time considering mileage fees, but found only an average of 24 percent of participants across various supported a mileage fee or tax.

Even when coupled with elimination of the gasoline tax, public support remained very low, but that public opinion could shift as drivers learned about and became more comfortable with the idea, according to the study.

Connecticut’s participation in a milage tax study or pilot program would not mean a mileage tax would be sure to follow and such a move, if even possible, would be years in the making. 

Connecticut’s fortunes have shifted over the course of the pandemic to a more optimistic note as revenue to the General Fund has increased and replaced a projected current year deficit with a surplus.

However, the same cannot be said of the Special Transportation Fund as many commuters have shifted to working from home.

According to the Office of Fiscal Analysis, revenue from the gasoline tax is projected to be $37.7 million lower and the oil companies tax will be down $126.7 million. The STF was able to lower expenditures by $70 million through lower debt service spending, leaving a fund balance of roughly $112.9 million.

But that balance is expected to be wiped out and the transportation fund left in deficit by 2024 as rising costs related to bonded debt will result in higher expenses. 

Gov. Ned Lamont said he will not pursue tolls this session but is reaching out to other groups to find new revenue streams for the STF in order to leverage federal infrastructure loans.

The governor also signed Connecticut onto a memorandum of understanding with the Transportation and Climate Initiative.

TCI was meant to be a regional cap and invest system across 12 states and Washington D.C. and would require gasoline producers and distributors to purchase emissions credits at auction. The money would then be funneled to participating states to fund climate justice initiatives, electric cars and public transportation.

Thus far, only Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington D.C. have signed the MOU.

Lamont expects TCI to bring in roughly $100 million per year to the state but would also raise the price of gasoline between 5 and 17 cents per gallon depending on what cap is placed on gasoline wholesalers.

**Meghan Portfolio contributed to this article** 

Marc E. Fitch

Marc E. Fitch is the author of several books and novels including Shmexperts: How Power Politics and Ideology are Disguised as Science and Paranormal Nation: Why America Needs Ghosts, UFOs and Bigfoot. Marc was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and his work has appeared in The Federalist, American Thinker, The Skeptical Inquirer, World Net Daily and Real Clear Policy. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University. Marc can be reached at [email protected]

15 Comments

  1. Todd R Smith
    February 1, 2021 @ 3:38 pm

    I’m curious what the milage tax rate would be. Washington state did a pilot program and the milage tax ended up being higher than the gasoline tax. it won’t be long before the state will go that way, after all there isn’t a tax that they don’t like.

    Reply

  2. Debra
    February 1, 2021 @ 9:14 pm

    We are taxed to death in this State. Prople are out of work and they want to tax us more. Time to Leave this state.
    They don’t know what to tax next. Wake up politicians before you put us all broke. !!

    Reply

  3. jOHN sELANDER
    February 2, 2021 @ 10:31 am

    nEW REVENUE STREAMS? How about you assHOLES CUT SPENDING INSTEAD?

    Reply

  4. William Dwyer
    February 2, 2021 @ 12:03 pm

    First take away loop hole for elected official to get paid milage while car pooling with someelse driving. Then talk

    Reply

  5. Robert Edgar Simpson
    February 3, 2021 @ 11:05 am

    Lamont and the dems are attempting to tax every item, event, person, non-event for which they are able to conjure up a tax. if a tracking device is to be placed on a vehicle who pays for the device? how does this comport with our constitutional rights to be secure from unreasonable searches as the device will allow the government to track all citizens’ locations, travels, stops, etc… does it apply to out of state travel? Business travel? ohhh what a slippery slope this one is.

    Reply

  6. Diana Waller
    February 4, 2021 @ 10:14 am

    This tax hurts commuters. If you are priced out of the more expensive areas in CT and are required to commute would be stuck paying a higher mileage tax. If you have children and need to transport them. You will also get taxed. The reality is CT is not built for public transit. How can we keep talking about raising taxes when CT is discussing a tax windfall. This is ridiculous. Social engineering to punish people for spending money to go out to physical stores, commute or transport their kids. Not to mention the increase in the cost of goods that will ultimately get passed down to the consumer. Can we please vote these people out of office.

    Reply

  7. Sheri Randazzo
    February 4, 2021 @ 11:05 am

    cT Once again is driving people out of the state…no pun intended, but it is a reality. how much more can we stand? what tax is next…tax those who use the oxygen in the air for breathing…oops shouldn’t have given the lawmakers a hint of what to tax next.

    Reply

  8. Jane Hill
    February 4, 2021 @ 12:23 pm

    I am not interested in this tax. I feel I am already being taxed too much

    Reply

  9. Jonathan Arnow
    February 4, 2021 @ 12:24 pm

    Rep. Kristen Vahey SPONSORED A SOLAR ‘pANEL’ DISCUSSION AT bLACK rOCK cONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.A FEW YEARS AGO..i WENT TO IT…IT TURNED OUT TO BE AN OBVIOUS CONFLICT OF INTEREST…BY HER…….AND iT WAS, WHAT i THOUGHT WOULD BE , A GROUP OF PANEL INSTALLERS .FOUR OR FIVE COMPANIES………THAT WOULD BE TOUTING THE ‘WONDERS OF SOLAR PANELS’ AND OFFERING EACH COMPANY’S TECHNIQUES ETC…..PRICES…. ..wHAT WAS SO EGREGIOUS ABOUT HER ACTIONS AND WHAT WAS SO OBVIOUS A PLUG FOR ‘ONLY’ ONE COMPANY , THE ONE SHE USED, WAS THAT ONLY ONE COMPANY WAS SPEAKING ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF SOLAR PANELS . THIS SO CALLED ‘solar’ INFORMATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT GATHERING , WHICH WAS ADVERTISED THROUGH OUR GOVERNMENT, TURNED MY STOMACH AND FORCED ME TO LEAVE EARLY .IT WAS SO OBVIOUS A SALES SHOW PUT ON BY HER..A PLUG FOR HER INSTALLER…..IT WAS THE FACT THAT rep vahey ACTED AS A PROMOTER FOR THIS ONE COMPANY …… THE VERY COMPANY THAT INSTALLED THE PANELS ON HER HOUSE….A LITTLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST HERE? ..yA THINK? …nOW SHE WANTS TO SCREW US FURTHER AND PENALIZE THE LITTLE PERSON IN THIS STATE.WITH A MILEAGE TAX……THIS LADY IS A POLITICAL TRAIN-WRECK..AND HAS NO BUSINESS BEING IN ANY FORM OR SHAPE OF GOVERNMENT….sHE SHOULD BE BANNED FROM BEING IN ANY SITUATION WHERE SHE IS .’SERVING’ THE PUBLIC….sTOP STEALING FROM THE PUBLIC…STOP TRYING TO FIX YOUR SPENDING ADDICTION….yOU ARE AN ABYSMAL PUBLIC SERVANT AND SHOULD SEEK HELP..AND PLEASE DO NOT RUN AGAIN…YOU AND mARTIN LOONEY, TOONEY SHOULD LEAVE asap…RESIGN…..
    AND ARE PERFECT REASONS FOR THE NEED FOR TERM LIMITS….AT ALL LEVELS OF STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT………RATHER THAN STREAMLINE YOUR GOVERNMENT ( IT AIN’T MY GOVERNMENT ) ….RATHER THAN FIRE AND RENEGOTIATE PUBLIC SECTOR UNION CONTRACTS AND CUT BACK ON PERSONNEL….. DURING A PANDEMIC…YOU CHOOSE TO SQUEEZE THE LITTLE GUY…..SHAME ON YOU…..YOU ARE KILLING THIS STATE…..sO MANY OF MY FRIENDS ,NEIGHBORS AND RELATIVES ARE CONSIDERING MOVING ..yOUR LATEST ACTION PROPOSAL…. ALONG WITH LOONEY TOONEY’S LATEST MONEY GRAB…..ARE THE REASONS…THIS STATE SUCKS……

    Reply

  10. Richard Klauser
    February 4, 2021 @ 3:49 pm

    INSTEAD of trying To CREATE nEw WAYS to tax the taxpayer, try to CUT SPENDING.
    STOP Your ENTITLEMENT SPENDING, don’t Make People DEPENDENT on Government

    Reply

  11. david a clar
    February 4, 2021 @ 4:30 pm

    Mileage tax is insane. I get $19 to do an inspection using my car before taxes without mileage. the state employees never leave their homes during covid and get a raise 7.1 costing tax payers 350 million. taxpayers are paying for insolvency of management of state reps, governor giving pensions for life and health insurance for life to all state employees. i will have no job if i have to pay a mileage tax.

    Reply

  12. len SUZIO
    February 4, 2021 @ 6:38 pm

    we defeated this monster when i was in the senate during the 2017 session. i successfully introduced legislation to forbid the dot from spending any money on a mileage tax study (see pa-17-174). the bill prohibiting the expenditure of money, sb-76 passed the senate unanimously and was overwhelmingly approved by the house and became pa 17-174. the commissioner did not willingly withdraw connecticut’s pledge to contribute for the study. it was forced on him. btw, the really crazy thing is the study was going to be conducted without ct money. so why pay for a study that you don’t have to pay for?

    Reply

  13. Stefan Robert
    February 8, 2021 @ 3:48 am

    I think this is a great initiative The governor also signed Connecticut onto a memorandum of understanding with the Transportation and Climate Initiative.

    Reply

  14. dAVID mOYER
    February 15, 2021 @ 7:26 am

    i’d prefer it to tolls because it would cost less to implement and be easy to shut off in a given year, whereas with toll gantries the construction cost and maintenance would eat up a lot of the revenue. unfortunately, in this state, Hartford would want a mileage tax and tolls and the highest gas tax in new england. (sorry for the all-caps, NOTHING TURNED THEM OFF)

    Reply

  15. Kim
    March 1, 2021 @ 8:11 pm

    I dont agree with This bill! Not only are we alrdy being taxed to the max, might i add it was years ago now we were told they were raising our taxes to pay doWn state overspending debit. Now you wanna take away our privacy by tracking us wherever We go? And then tax us on our milage?? No, no, no. Enough is enough!!!

    Reply

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