Of course we need to provide funding to constantly maintain the infrastructure that is essential for transportation across our roads (”Maryland’s gas tax makes a convenient villain — if you don’t look too closely,” Feb. 13). However, the big picture in this editorial is a bit short-sighted. Although Gov. Larry Hogan would not sign onto the Advanced Clean Cars II regulations, it will not be long before Maryland, now a one-party state, will follow California’s lead and adopt those rules or something similar mandating that, beginning in 2035, all new cars, trucks and SUV’s sold will be zero-emissions vehicles.
Today, internal combustion-engine (ICE) vehicle owners are the only ones who have to pay a tax to drive. If you drive an electric vehicle or EV, you are driving on the roads for free because you are not paying gasoline tax. As we approach the 2035 goal, the number of ICE cars will decrease, and EVs will increase. Consequently, the revenues from gasoline taxes will decrease. To offset the loss of revenue, how high will the gasoline tax go? Unsustainably high.
What the government will need to do is mandate that EV owners periodically bring their cars to a testing site and have their mileage checked, and they will then be taxed on the basis of that mileage. Hopefully, the gasoline tax on ICE vehicles will be somehow adjusted to keep it comparable to the mileage tax on EV’s. However, what is more likely is that gas the tax will become more onerous, thus forcing people to convert to EV’s.
A bad idea would be to totally eliminate the gasoline tax and base all vehicle taxes on mileage driven because then there would be much less of an incentive to buy a fuel efficient ICE car.
So it appears that big things lie down the road for gasoline taxes as being “the major source for long-term transportation investment.” It is ironic if the Maryland General Assembly, with its far-reaching plans to make Maryland a zero emissions state, does not recognize that theirs is a pedestrian, 20th century approach to generating revenue for the Transportation Trust Fund. The General Assembly needs to act now to ensure that ICE car owners are treated equitably; that they are not the only ones who have to pay to use the roads. EV owners should start paying their fair share for using Maryland’s roads immediately!
— Paul Leroy, Bel Air
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