New Democrat Taxes
- The device in Oregon tracks mileage and gasoline consumption. They send the information electronically from the car to private contractors, which provides motorists with a monthly bill.
(San Jose Mercury News) - State officials have begun to seriously study a plan to replace California's gas tax with a fee for each mile motorists drive.
"We're going to have to find another way to finance the upkeep of the roads," Gov. Jerry Brown said earlier this month in rolling out his 2015 budget, noting that California has a $59 billion backlog of maintenance needs on state highways and bridges.
Brown gave no specifics. But last fall he signed a law that set up a commission to study a "road usage charge" and establish a pilot program by Jan. 1, 2017. The 15-member commission had its first meeting on Friday in Sacramento.
"I think there's a long way to go before this is implemented. But we have a real problem when it comes to infrastructure in California," said U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Richmond, who wrote the bill when he was a state senator. "We have to do something."
Silicon Valley is getting involved early.
The chairman of the California Transportation Commission, which chose the 15 members of the study panel, is Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
Guardino said he wants the new commission, formally called the California Road Charge Pilot Program Technical Advisory Committee, to explore every angle, and receive wide public and media scrutiny.
Meanwhile, Oregon's transportation department announced this month it has signed a contract with a San Jose company, Azuga, that makes GPS tracking devices that plug in below a vehicle's dashboard.
The devices Oregon intends to employ track mileage and gasoline consumption. They send the information electronically from the car to private contractors like Azuga, which provides motorists with a monthly bill.