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A new mileage tax may replace the gas tax in Oregon. Oregon residents will be taxed by the number of miles travelled, as they travel along the state's highways like Highway 30 pictured here. Those not participating will face higher taxes at the pump.  (Source: Lyn Topinka)
A new ambitious high-tech effort to fairly distribute roadwork taxes proposed in Oregon, but can it overcome fears of government tracking?

Nobody likes to pay taxes, but they are reality of modern U.S. government as we know it.  However, if you have to pay taxes, you at least want them to be fair.  That's the mentality driving a rather revolutionary, albeit controversial, new plan in the state of Oregon.

In Oregon, as in other states, people have long complained about using fuel taxes to finance road work.  Such measures place a larger tax burden on those in professions requiring heavier vehicles.  So Oregon's Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) has developed a new plan -- pay by mileage.

Oregon, whose highways recently gained attention via a new solar project, is now looking to legislate the governor's plan.  The new legislation will provide Oregon with "a path to transition away from the gas tax as the central funding source for transportation" via a mileage tax implemented with the help of GPS satellites.

While the exact details are still being ironed out, Gov. Kulongoski's web page gives the basics of the plan.  In it he states, "As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system."

He is creating a task force "to partner with auto manufacturers to refine technology that would enable Oregonians to pay for the transportation system based on how many miles they drive."  Key studies were performed in 2006 and 2007 that indicate that such a program would indeed be possible. 

In the 2007 test which lasted 10 months with 300 motorists at two service stations, drivers were taxed 1.2 cents per mile and were refunded the 24 cents a gallon state gas tax.  When the motorists got to the pump, their vehicles connected to government computers informing them of the mileage (calculated via GPS tracking) and issuing tax.  Equipment for the test came from Oregon State University.

While clever, the program faces one enormous thorny obstacle -- concerns over the loss of privacy. 

The governor's online outline states, "The governor is committed to ensuring that rural Oregon is not adversely affected and that privacy concerns are addressed."

Despite assurances from James Whitty, the ODOT official in charge of the project, that the new GPS system would not be used for continuous tracking of citizens' cars, many advocacy groups are outraged and many remain fearful.  The final report on the 2007 test deployment was conscious of this fear, stating, "The concept requires no transmission of vehicle travel locations, either in real time or of travel history.  Accordingly, no travel location points are stored within the vehicle or transmitted elsewhere. Thus there can be no ‘tracking’ of vehicle movements."

Advocates point out that the devices are not developed by Oregon, but rather by industry partners.  The program's policy page states, "ODOT would have no involvement in developing the on-vehicle devices, installing them in vehicles, maintaining them or having any other access to them except, perhaps, in situations involving tampering or similar fee evasion activities."

However, even if privacy concerns can be laid to rest, there will also be a large price tag associated with initially implementing the program, one which may give residents sticker shock.  An initial investment of $20M USD would be needed, according to the governor, just to see if the program was viable.  A full deployment would require GPS be gradually added to gas stations and to all vehicles in the state.

The proposal also calls for a punitive tax against those not adopting the new device -- the gas tax will continue for vehicles not equipped to pay the mileage tax, but it will be increased 2 cents.

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Heavier vehicles...
By TheSpaniard on 12/31/2008 11:15:21 AM , Rating: 5
but the current gas tax kind of takes into account actual usage...

a smaller vehicle < 2000 lbs makes a MUCH smaller impact on the roads than does the 1/2 ton trucks.

so now we are saying that larger vehicles (read:rich) now pay less taxes and the small kias and civics (read:poor) will pay more

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By wushuktl on 12/31/2008 11:18:59 AM , Rating: 3
this is true. so maybe there will be a multiplier that they can apply on the road usage tax based on the vehicle type.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Suntan on 12/31/2008 1:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, a GPS unit to track each and everyone’s actual distance, and a yearly submission process for everyone to some DMV for some kind of credit/or pay range to better even out the fact that some vehicles put more wear into the roads sounds like a much more simplified method than just upping the fuel tax…

The only thing I like less than politicians trying to justify increasing my taxes are politicians finding stupid, wasteful boondoggles as a means of justifying raising my taxes.


RE: Heavier vehicles...
By AnnihilatorX on 12/31/2008 3:23:16 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed with the sarcasm.
The method is over complicated. The fuel tax alone should be the most easy and logical way of taxing because the tax depends on both mileage and vehicle type.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Oregonian2 on 12/31/2008 9:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
Our Governor is determined to squeeze more money out of us no matter how much it costs or how inefficient it is.

I think he's just building trade stock to attempt imposing sales tax again (proposals have been repeatedly voted down -- only an blithering idiot would believe the revenue neutral effect promised each time (in the long run)).

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By JKflipflop98 on 1/1/2009 8:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
It's things like this that make me ashamed to say I live in this coo-coo state. It's like the people in charge here want to do good, but they come up with the most stupid ideas of how to get there.

The solar powered stoplight that will pay itself off in a modest 250 years or so? Brilliant!

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Ammohunt on 1/2/2009 2:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the money Oregon will loose with this when anyone with any sense moves to the other 49 states. Michigan episode II?

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By BZDTemp on 1/1/2009 9:06:19 PM , Rating: 2
Also this means people are more inclined to think about gas millage. Of course there is a strong reflection of mileage in the weight of a vehicle but driving style also makes a lot of difference.

Still one thing a GPS system would let you do would be to charge more for say people driving at rush hour or perhaps in special environment protection zones. Also a system tracking all traffic would be great for the traffic reports and the development of road systems.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 1/5/2009 3:02:31 PM , Rating: 2
Just adjust the current tax rate for newer fleet mileage averages and have done with it.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By murphyslabrat on 12/31/2008 4:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
I know, isn't this idea so brilliant? I mean, come on, isn't it so unfair that people are being taxed on exactly how much fuel they purchase? And wouldn't it be so much fairer to tax poor JB Hunt, when Mr. and Mrs. Smith get off with paying so little?

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By meepstone on 12/31/08, Rating: 0
RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Veerappan on 1/2/2009 12:12:04 PM , Rating: 3
In the 2007 test which lasted 10 months with 300 motorists at two service stations, drivers were taxed 1.2 cents per mile and were refunded the 24 cents a gallon state gas tax.

Read the article. 1.2 cents per mile or 24 cents per gallon. If you drive a vehicle that gets over 20 miles/gallon (mine does), your taxes will go up. By enacting this GPS tracking, vehicles that are very fuel efficient will have their taxes increased, whereas heavy/inefficient vehicles will have their taxes lowered.

It sounds like the exact opposite of what we should be encouraging with regards to consumer buying habits.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Moishe on 1/2/2009 2:42:45 PM , Rating: 2
This is what gets me...
quote: is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system.

I understand exactly what he is saying, but I hate the idea that the vehicle environment changes and the government has to invent a new method to keep their same level of income.

This is just like the music industry trying to protect their revenue stream by force instead of by changing the business model.

How about simply NOT ripping off the tax payers for a change? Ohh... wait, this is the government we're talking about and ripping people off is just about all they do.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By William Gaatjes on 1/1/2009 2:52:29 PM , Rating: 4
Fuel based tax together with vehicle tax is a much better way to keep normal personal transport vehicles under control. The vehicle tax is partially based on the weight of the vehicle. For business related vehicles different rules apply such as lower vehicle taxes as special purpose vehicles for physical disabled people have a lower tax. Vehicles that are cleaner have also a lower vehicle tax as a stimulation to the customer to buy a clean car. This is pretty recent tho... The fuelbased tax stimulates the customer to buy a high milage automobile. This way you stimulate the customers in the free market to buy a clean car but you do not force them. If a person want to drive a big gazguzzling vehicle for fun this person then must pay more. This system is not perfect because it depends on how much trust you can give the politician not to be influenced to much by automobile manufacturers. But it works pretty ok.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By William Gaatjes on 1/1/2009 3:48:05 PM , Rating: 2
And i have to add, In my country our gasprices are higher and we have to pay vehicle tax as well. But since the country is pretty small and pretty civilized public transport is good here and nothing to be ashamed off. I would not mind having a lower gas price but you cannot have everything in life, can you ?

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By bobsmith1492 on 12/31/2008 11:19:20 AM , Rating: 5
Very true.

The current tax on gas prods people to buy more fuel-efficient cars.

This new plan would prod people to simply drive less and not care how efficient their car is. It makes no sense.

Do I get a mileage tracker on my moped, too? So, even though I get 150MPG, I'm paying as much as someone who gets 10MPG in a semi? (I don't actually have a moped but still...)

Then again Oregon is the state that won't let you put gas in your own car so who knows what they're thinking over there. :P

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By FITCamaro on 12/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Yawgm0th on 12/31/2008 1:05:11 PM , Rating: 3
No it makes it fair.

See OP. Heavier vehicles have a heavier impact on the transportation infrastructure. Taxing gas is the only way to distribute responsibility fairly amongst drivers. This proposal would make this system inherently less fair than it already is.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By FITCamaro on 12/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Suntan on 12/31/2008 2:03:37 PM , Rating: 2
That would be where the yearly registration tax comes in. Government bureaucracies can choose to pinalize any make or model they want. The system and infrastructure are already setup for it.

Regardless, on the average, heavier vehicles use more gas.


RE: Heavier vehicles...
By rcc on 12/31/2008 3:42:42 PM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily. Hybrids are considerably heavier than other cars in the same size class. The Prius for instance is not only very heavy for it's size, but it uses a narrower tire for less drag and better MPG, but which increases ground loading.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Oregonian2 on 12/31/2008 9:56:54 PM , Rating: 2
In any case, it's not just weight. We just had two weeks of snow on the roads (most snow since 1950) here in Oregon.

Chains and/or studded tires would affect the wear on the road quite a bit. So just a little driving in the last couple weeks vs a lot of driving in the summer might still have the summer driving wearing down the roads less.

The only purpose of the Governor's actions, IMO, is to increase tax revenue lost by having people driving less and using less gas (just due to the economy even if one disregards improved gas mileage) -- plus the general problem of tax shortfalls due to unemployment.

Mind you, fixing revenue shortfalls is something that needs to be addressed, but perhaps being less sneaky. :-)

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By William Gaatjes on 1/1/2009 3:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
The first T-Fords can also not be compared to modern day ice vehicles, although it was light in weight, 1,200 pounds (540 kg). (Internal Combustion Engine for clarity). It is true that parallel hybrids are more heavy and very logical, It is part electrical(electrical motor and batteries) and part ice in stead of just having an ice. Serial hybrids that use a tiny ice for charging and only electric motors for propulsion will already way less when designed properly. 1st generation may still not be that lightweighted. And when affordable pure electric vehicles will appear when the battery/supercapacitor technology is improved, the weight will come down. Hybrids are just a step in between because battery / supercapacitor technology is still in development.

I agree that hybrids like the prius are not perfect and i have personally more faith in serial hybrids as the chevrolet volt with an ice running on a optimum rpm when compared with a parallel hybrid as the toyota prius. But Toyota opened the door for hybrids in the market and cudo's for them. If General motors just had been a bit more pushing the EV-1. Keeping it alive as a study object following battery and super capacitor technology and putting some resource money in battery technology and super capacitor technology. Then when batteries and supercapacitors have a good weight/energy storage/price ratio GM can immediately put the EV-1 on sale again although in a up to date form. Because although everybody says that electric vehicles have to be small and light weight, when power/weight ratio is similair or better then from ice vehicles nothing stand in the way to drive an electrical suv or truck or semi truck. Does anybody has some number on power/weight ratio and the energy storage ratio/weight of ice vehicles and electric vehicles of the moment ?

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By William Gaatjes on 1/1/2009 3:37:49 PM , Rating: 2
I guess GM did keep the ev-1 alive. It's offspring is the chevrolet volt. Woopsy.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Yawgm0th on 12/31/2008 3:01:30 PM , Rating: 4
What are you rambling on about? The basis of my logic is that heavy vehicles, being heavier, have a bigger impact on the roads. I will say it twice for good measure. The basis of my logic is that heavy vehicles, being heavier, have a bigger impact on the roads.

Driving a 2000-pound sedan does not have the same effect on a road as driving a 5-ton semi. I said nothing about fuel economy, nor did the OP's point have to deal with fuel economy. Taxing gas to fund transportation infrastructure is not about discouraging the usage of less fuel-efficient vehicles. Certainly gas tax has that added effect, but that is not the sole or primary reasoning behind it.

Taxing mileage driven, conversely, punishes those driving lighter vehicles (which damage roads less). It as such makes it less fair since people driving vehicles that use proportionally less of the transportation budget (having lighter cars) pay proportionally more of the transportation budget (since they are being charged based on how much they drive, not how much deterioration they cause).

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 3:40:06 PM , Rating: 1
What are you rambling on about?

Taxes on gas pay for roads. You say that those taxes are fair because larger vehicles have a bigger impact on the roads (which I'm not disputing) and they use more gas so they're pay more for the roads. But if a smaller vehicle gets lower mileage than a larger vehicle, it is paying a higher fee for road usage while impacting the roads less than a larger vehicle.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Yawgm0th on 12/31/2008 4:37:23 PM , Rating: 2
I did say something erroneous in my post, I will concede.
Taxing gas is the only way to distribute responsibility fairly amongst drivers.

This is wrong since distributing responsibility fairly is impossible. Let me rephrase.
Taxing gas is the only reasonable way to distribute responsibility somewhat fairly amongst drivers.

I apologize if I misunderstood your disagreement. In any case, there's no such thing as fair taxation, but some taxation isn't as unfair as other taxation. It's true that owners of less fuel-efficient cars pay a disproportionate amount of transportation gas tax funding since weight is not the only factor of fuel efficiency. I do not dispute this.

However, it is still more fair this way than charging by mileage, as that would reverse the situation and the disproportion of the funding would be to an even greater degree. Light cars with inferior fuel economy than significantly heavier cars are relatively few. Overall, there is a very strong correlation between fuel efficiency and weight. Certainly there are some outliers and hybrid engines change things, but for the most part gas tax makes vehicle owners pay a somewhat proportionate amount.

Hybrid vehicles will change this, but not as much since larger hybrid still have a larger disincentive than smaller hybrids. However, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles will certainly warrant a paradigm change. GPS mileage tracking won't be a reasonable solution.

Until plug-ins become common, gas tax is probably the most fair, most easily implemented transportation funding tax.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Alexstarfire on 1/1/2009 5:14:04 AM , Rating: 2
While technically true I really doubt ANY car, including the H1 Hummer gets worse mileage than a fully loaded semi-truck. That'd be near impossible. All this tax is going to do for the people of Oregon is make those with semi-trucks and other such vehicles that are heavy and get bad MPG pay less while those with lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles pay more.

I fail to see how that is even remotely more fair than the way it is in every other state. Honestly, it's overly complicated, no more fair than the current system (if not less fair), and has security risks. What the hell is the upside to this for either side?

BTW, does this mileage only count for miles driven in Oregon or just vehicles licensed in Oregon? I would think that to be most fair it's be Oregon licensed vehicles with miles driven in Oregon..... but I really doubt that's the way it'll be.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By CloudFire on 1/1/2009 8:00:41 AM , Rating: 2
Do you honestly think your argument is sound? While i don't dispute the fact that some percentage of small vehicles can get worst mileage, the MAJORITY of small vehicles get better gas mileage than bigger vehicles. That's just common sense. You are arguing for the other side which makes agreeing with it a lot harder. A person driving a Civic or Prius will be taxed more because they are getting more mileage with their more fuel efficient car? While some people in a H1 Hummer or Ram truck pays less tax because they are using less miles? Even though they are pumping more gas?

Just give up, this system is not very efficient and is way more unfair than the one already established.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By kilkennycat on 12/31/2008 4:23:44 PM , Rating: 1
You can drive a Civic and get 10mpg? How? Driving in first-gear with your foot flat to the floor?? Stupid argument....

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By ZmaxDP on 12/31/2008 1:14:17 PM , Rating: 2
It makes it unfair in a different way FITCamaro.

The weight/size of a vehicle does impact how much damage it causes a road and therefore how much maintenance money is needed to repair it. Also, the weight rating on a road will change the construction cost for new roads. To take the weight of a fully loaded Semi, you'll need a lot more sub-surface prep, higher grade compaction materials, more compaction materials, and a thicker road construction thus more asphalt/concrete or a combination of both. Also, the time and labor for a higher weight rated road are much higher as well.

So, while I agree that we shouldn't be taxed into driving priuses, we also shouldn't taxed into driving H2s either.

Unfortunately, I can't think of a good way to make a truly "fair" transportation tax. So I think we're going to be stuck with some kind of unfairness regardless. I prefer the current unfairness which at least encourages a better behavior than the one above.

(By better behavior, I mean economically. I'd much rather see our countries oil consumption continue to drop over the coming years so we can reduce our reliance and investments into certain hotspots. This is the same reason I'd like a plug in hybrid with a sufficient range to rarely use the ICE. It isn't about global warming or anything like that for me, it's just about reducing our dependence on other countries so we can avoid certain predicaments in the future.)

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 1:33:30 PM , Rating: 3
I agree that I can't think of a truly fair way to do this. But hybrids are the epitome of unfairness in this matter. A plug in hybrid like the Volt might never use any gas (or very little at least). But its still going to be using the roads while paying no taxes towards supporting them. So if we went the way of hybrids, we'd have to start doing this since otherwise roads wouldn't be funded (or would drop dramatically).

So clearly the answer is to do away with hybrids. :)

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By MadMan007 on 12/31/2008 6:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
Clearly the answer is a tax that accounts for non-petroleum fuel consuming vehicles. Perhaps a registration fee that counts annual mileage, it could easily be tailored to each vehicle model's weight or other measure so that an electric compact doesn't pay as much as an electric SUV.

The problem is we are logical-thinking citizens and not wasteful politicians in office.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Veerappan on 1/2/2009 12:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Something that takes into account vehicle weight and miles driven is probably the fairest we can hope to come up with.

Something like:
Tax = X * Vehicle Weight * Miles Driven

Vehicle weight could be the weight from the manufacturer's spec sheet, and X is just some multiplier that gets changed depending on how much they feel like taxing us this year.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By keegssj on 12/31/2008 11:32:09 AM , Rating: 5
My first thoughts also.

Lets design a complicated expensive method to track vehicle usage to replace a working simple method we already have.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 12:38:03 PM , Rating: 1
Don't know about where you live but I see plenty of poor people here driving heavy vehicles. A $4000 Chevy Caprice with a $3000 financed stereo system and $4000 financed 24" spinners is hardly light. Nor is the old Suburban with the same stuff on it. That is what most poor blacks around here drive. They can't afford it, but they still drive it.

Not saying you're entirely wrong but this is not a rich/poor issue. So don't make it out to be one.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Nfarce on 12/31/08, Rating: 0
RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Screwballl on 12/31/2008 1:35:44 PM , Rating: 2
so now we are saying that larger vehicles (read:rich) now pay less taxes and the small kias and civics (read:poor) will pay more

No, everyone will pay the same taxes regardless of actual fuel usage. The hybrid users will pay the same amount that the 10mpg work trucks do. If it costs $10 per 300 miles, it doesn't matter how much gas they used.

I think this is more of a ploy, with more non-gasoline vehicles on the roadway, the state wants to collect taxes based on usage (miles driven), not gasoline used.

I do not believe that GPS is the proper way to do that though due to the chance of illegal usage or "ads for nearby restaurants" showing on the GPS screen. As the Odometer becomes more integrated with the vehicle's computers, there will be less or no ways to actually bypass it on anything newer than the 2004 models. Some vehicles have a lockout, where if it cannot see any signal from the speed sensor or odometer reading, it will not let the vehicle go into any gear.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By ebakke on 12/31/2008 5:41:34 PM , Rating: 2
there will be less or no ways to actually bypass it on anything newer than the 2004 models.
Where there's a will, there's a way.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By MadMan007 on 12/31/2008 6:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
The statement you quote is correct if you assume it meant '...relative to the current situation' which I think is a safe assumption in the context of the post.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Bagom on 12/31/2008 2:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
I think this is the government seeing the future and trying to keep tax revenues stable or more from the people. With the new hybirds from Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, etc... people maybe using a lot less gas in the future. This way they can keep the tax revenues at the same level or raise them. If this works in OR, watch out next will be CA, WA, NY/NJ/CT, etc...

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Suntan on 12/31/2008 2:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt it. It’s not a matter of *just* getting enough funding to maintain the roads. If cars continue to get more efficient, they can always just increase the tax per gallon. Taxing 4 cents on a gallon purchased is the same revenue as taxing 2 cents on 2 gallons purchased.

No, I think it has more to do with adding just a little bit of technical complexity to the system so that the average J6P is just too lazy and too stupefied to complain about increases to it. J6P can comprehend when the reporter on the news gives a sound bit that says, “And in other news tax on a gallon of gas has gone up half a cent.” However, the nightly news probably wouldn’t even bother trying to tell people that, “And in other news the state legislature has ruled that the annual calculation of GPS supplied distance tracking that is aggregated for the purposes of calculating infrastructure repair has gone up by a factor of 1/28th based on mean vehicle operation within the annual reporting period.”

“Keep them unaware of how much it truly costs and they don’t get nearly as angry” has always been the MO of the tax system. Nothing new there.


RE: Heavier vehicles...
By TOAOCyrus on 12/31/2008 6:06:42 PM , Rating: 2
Its true big trucks have a bigger impact on the road but within any size class of vehicle there is a great range of mileage. Someone driving a camry hybrid pays less tax then someone driving a regular camry but they have similar impact on the road. That said I don't agree with this scheme based on the fact that the government will be able to track every car on the road at any time.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By Reclaimer77 on 12/31/2008 8:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
a smaller vehicle < 2000 lbs makes a MUCH smaller impact on the roads than does the 1/2 ton trucks.

Roads and highways are designed to handle a continuous pounding by 10+ ton loaded down semi trucks, tanker trucks etc etc 24/7.

An SUV or full size truck is nothing.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By TheSpaniard on 1/1/2009 2:27:14 AM , Rating: 2
um... they are designed to support it. that dosen't mean that wear does not occur.

or are those potholes down the street caused by some magical 12 ton object that bounced in there?

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By mdogs444 on 1/1/2009 8:34:31 AM , Rating: 2
or are those potholes down the street caused by some magical 12 ton object that bounced in there?

Well considering you have 10 ton Semi's, id say you're pretty close. Outside that, did you ever consider factoring in the WEATHER? Rain, snow, salt, etc. They play a bigger factor on the road than an SUV.

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By TheSpaniard on 1/3/2009 8:48:11 AM , Rating: 2
12ton semis actually have the weight spread out over 18 wheels

but the point is wear and tear, the heavier per wheel the more it does. couple that with off-road tires on trucks (not always but some)

and as far as weather being more important, may I direct you to US41 (asphalt) which has two 1/2 inch ruts from the amount of vehicle traffic it receives (very few semis)

RE: Heavier vehicles...
By dj LiTh on 12/31/2008 11:04:34 PM , Rating: 2
What the hell are you doing using something as out of place as logic to combat the local government of the state of oregon?

/end sarcasm (as i'm sure most missed it)

By Motoman on 12/31/2008 11:13:20 AM , Rating: 2
...tracking where citizens drive? Don't think so.

And if they did, *bing*, new industry for GPS (or whatever) jammers pops up. New market for radar detector companies.

RE: Fail.
By wushuktl on 12/31/2008 11:17:49 AM , Rating: 3
"The concept requires no transmission of vehicle travel locations, either in real time or of travel history. Accordingly, no travel location points are stored within the vehicle or transmitted elsewhere. Thus there can be no ‘tracking’ of vehicle movements."

RE: Fail.
By Motoman on 12/31/2008 11:37:45 AM , Rating: 2
(calculated via GPS tracking)

It's right there. "oh trust us, we're only getting the raw mileage driven from the GPS tracking, we won't be getting any of the other data that is collectable by GPS tracking in exactly the same manner."


RE: Fail.
By rudolphna on 12/31/2008 12:06:15 PM , Rating: 2
do I spy a conspiracy theory?

RE: Fail.
By tastyratz on 12/31/2008 12:16:28 PM , Rating: 2
and at&t was not conducting wiretaps either.

The raw reality is gps is unnecessary for something like this.

Road vehicles already have a system in place for this and its free. It's called a speed sensor. Conduct yearly vehicle inspections that include odometer readings and setup a payment plan based on the yearly usage for the following year. No potential for abuse, no controversy, no problem. Systems already are in place and it would work fine.

This wont work for semi's and other drivers with interstate travel (how many people actually LIVE in oregon anyways. Its like wyoming population 7)

The semi's will just register in another state and always fill up their for the cheaper gas.

RE: Fail.
By mal1 on 12/31/2008 12:27:27 PM , Rating: 2
"That government is best which governs least."

-Thomas Paine

RE: Fail.
By ZmaxDP on 12/31/2008 1:04:56 PM , Rating: 3
Um, did you read the article?

The whole point is to more fairly distribute taxes so that larger, less fuel efficient vehicles like semis would pay LESS. The more inefficient (lower MPG) your car is, the better this is for you. Let's say the state charges 1.2 cents per mile or 26 cents per gallon. If your average mpg is less than 21.666mpg, then this works out great for you as you'll pay less in taxes. If you're dead on, then it doesn't matter. If you're more efficient then you'll pay more taxes than you currently pay. It's actually more likely that Prius owners near the state borders will drive to Washington to gas up than semis.

The biggest challenge for semis is how does the state handle out of state travel? I am guessing this is why the GPS is needed over the odometer. The GPS knows when you're in state, and out of state.

If the GPS chips they put in cars for this had no tracking storage, and basically only output a yes/no (in state, out of state) and the digital odometer just kept two tabs (total milage and in-state milage) I can see how this would potentially work without violating any privacy issues.

Ironically, a lot of cars already have GPS built in with much more sophisticated capabilities than this that are completely exposed to the private corporations that make the vehicles (on-star anyone?). No one has really raised the conspiracy flag about that.

I'm more concerned about a private company knowing my whereabouts at all time than I am about the government. If they get an idea to abuse the information a private company is far more likely to be competent at doing so...

RE: Fail.
By gstrickler on 12/31/2008 5:37:02 PM , Rating: 2
Ironically, a lot of cars already have GPS built in with much more sophisticated capabilities than this that are completely exposed to the private corporations that make the vehicles (on-star anyone?). No one has really raised the conspiracy flag about that.

I'm more concerned about a private company knowing my whereabouts at all time than I am about the government. If they get an idea to abuse the information a private company is far more likely to be competent at doing so...

Agreed, in theory. However, OnStar and other standard GPS units use GPS only to determine the current location of the vehicle, they don't continually store or transmit the location of the vehicle. With OnStar, when you're in a crash, the system uses a built-in cell phone/modem to call the OnStar computer and then report your current location (and not where you have been).

Some of the units designed for off-road use do have a form of tracking that the user can enable/disable for the purpose of leaving a trail of "virtual bread crumbs" from the point at which you left the known road(s) so you can follow that trail back to the road. Again, that feature is limited to certain units, the information is kept internally only, is deleted at some point, and can be disabled entirely by the user.

Charging by the mile is certainly a worse system than the admittedly imperfect per gallon system we use now. Weight x mileage might be better in theory, but it would be much more expensive to track the mileage. Weight x mileage has other flaws because a heavy vehicle is causing more wear than a lighter one, even when sitting still (e.g. parked, at a stop light/sign, idling in traffic, etc.) and each time you start or stop (e.g. at a traffic signal) you cause additional wear). Also, a vehicle that traverses a lot of bridges is "costing" more than one that uses primarily surface streets. Mileage without a lot of additiona info isn't a particularly good metric.

I used to drive a lot of miles, but they were almost all highway miles. Now I drive about 70% less distance, but the time is only reduced by about 30% because it's now almost all surface streets (with lots more traffic signals). My average fuel economy dropped about 15%, so I'm paying about 15% more per mile than I used to, which helps balance out all the extra wear due to traffic signals.

Per gallon is imperfect, but I can't think of a better system (one that's more accurate/fair, low cost to administer, maintains privacy, etc.)

Electric vehicles (and to a lesser degree hybrids) do alter the equation as they use no (or less gas), so they're not paying (as much). However, those are still such a small percentage of vehicles that it's not worth changing the current system yet. Someone could make a good case for not taxing those vehicles (as much) at this time as they're helping reduce our dependence on oil imports.

Overall, a good post.

RE: Fail.
By Fritzr on 1/2/2009 12:27:48 AM , Rating: 2
One of the "features" OnStar does NOT advertise is that they can activate the system remotely. In short OnStar can by by pressing a button get a location reading for any OnStar equipped car. They can also turn on the in car microphone and record "ambient noise". This is how they can pre-emptively contact you if they suspect you need help. The police can (and have) require OnStar to activate the mic and record the occupants ... search warrant required unless of course the FBI presents a National Security Letter or other accepted waiver of the constitution.

For your current location all that is required is a police officer stating that they are tracking a suspect and would the OnStar operator kindly look up the suspect's current location.

The Oregon proposal sounds like it offers a lot more protection of privacy than OnStar equipped cars currently offer. BTW unless you cut the power to the OnStar hardware, you can be sure that OnStar can activate nonsubscribers when asked to do so ... Welcome to a Brave New World :D

RE: Fail.
By Fritzr on 1/2/2009 12:15:12 AM , Rating: 2
The article states that there is an opt out option. The per gallon tax paid by those opting out is the same one that would be paid by out of state vehicles. In the article they say as an example that the current 26 cent tax would drop to 1.2 cents for participants and jump to 28 cents for non-participants.

So to decide if you want to opt out you calculate your mileage ... calculate the tax both ways and then opt out if you have a fuel efficient vehicle.

This plan offers a flat rate per mile for those who want to put 450ci V8s in their muscle car ... they would pay a lot less gas tax by opting in ... On the other hand the Prius Hybrid would opt out if it could deliver an average of 40-60mpg overall. In the one case the per gallon discount is enough to drop the cost per gallon, in the other case the miles per gallon makes the tax excessive.

RE: Fail.
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 12:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
Why not go off the odometer instead of GPS? Probably more accurate and far cheaper to implement.

RE: Fail.
By RMSe17 on 12/31/2008 12:54:41 PM , Rating: 2
I was just about to post that. You have to come in every year to renew your registration. Now they can just take a reading off the odometer while you register for next year. Simple, efficient. Oh, but since you cant track someone this way, it will probably not be implemented.

RE: Fail.
By Yawgm0th on 12/31/2008 1:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
An odometer is about the only thing I can think of that's more easily circumvented than a GPS tracking system.

Any implementation of this is going to be fundamentally flawed from a technical standpoint.

RE: Fail.
By abscoder on 12/31/2008 1:02:38 PM , Rating: 2
Because the state would either have to take drivers' word (unlikely when it comes to taxes) or have you show up somewhere to check it themselves (costly).

Many car's odometers can be easily disabled. As an example, the odometer in the Grand Cherokee I had years ago could be rendered worthless by pulling a fuse. For modern OBDII vehicles it's harder, I imagine, but can probably still be done my unplugging the wheel speed or equivalent sensor. I'll have to play with my STi this weekend to see if I can disable it, because now I just have to know. :)

RE: Fail.
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 1:27:11 PM , Rating: 3
Ok but disabling an odometer is a crime. One that I think very few people are willing to go to jail for. Unless you never plan to sell your car again, you'd be stupid to tamper with the odometer since when you sold it you'd have to tell the person that the mileage was off by thousands of miles. So if you do it and tell them, you're guilty of tax evasion. If you don't, you're guilty of fraud.

Maybe you're willing to go to prison or face harsh penalties. But I'm not.

RE: Fail.
By Fritzr on 1/2/2009 12:31:16 AM , Rating: 2
Yep it's a crime to sell a car with an odometer that has been 'adjusted'. That law was created many years before this idea was thought up simply due to the number of sellers who understand you can get a higher price for a low mileage car. Nothing new there

RE: Fail.
By tastyratz on 12/31/2008 2:44:01 PM , Rating: 2
odometer can easily be faked, but a gps is not infallible as well. They wont always have reception, so who's to say you don't just turn the thing off 4 days a week and say your a low mileage driver?
The thing wont know the difference between being off or driving under a bridge.

This puts the foot in the door for a lot of things we don't want. After that we will see speeding tickets issued based on "readings from existing gps install base" and 911 call tracking will turn into the government having the ability to track any car at will. Then the system will get hacked and privacy? well it was nice knowing it.
This isn't going overboard to the tune of orwelian, but only a hop and skip away if government mandated gps systems went in place.

If a program went in for this there are too many reasons why it wouldn't work out well anyways as a single state program - it could only be implemented practically on a federal level.

RE: Fail.
By Fritzr on 1/2/2009 12:42:23 AM , Rating: 2
As an Oregon program you need to deal with out of state mileage and gas purchases.
As a Federal program you need to deal with out of country mileage and gas purchases.

Just as semis routinely drive interstate routes they also routinely drive international routes.

Just as Oregon will deal with Washington, Idaho & California drivers, a national program will need to deal with Canadian, Mexican and a sprinkling of South American cars that will drive into and in the US under their own power.

At any level below worldwide you need to plan for vehicles that are not part of the system and for vehicles in the system to travel beyond it's boundaries.

As far as tracking is concerned it is implicit. The GPS identifies the car it is reporting on. Even if it doesn't report it's position, that information is available from the cell towers it is reporting to. Unless of course it is recording the info and bursting it at intervals (actually this capability will be required due to areas where GPS will be out of range of receivers)

They say there will be no recording, but a working system will need to keep records to ensure accurate reporting, so you can be sure that will be added as an essential "upgrade" as soon as it the system is well accepted.

RE: Fail.
By rcc on 12/31/2008 3:51:17 PM , Rating: 4
In order for the GPS unit to calculate distance, it has to have the waypoints. It may, or may not, delete them, but it has to have them for a period of time.

And, as a side note, if it can calcuate distance, it can also calculate speed. So, as it doles out tax bills, it can write a ticket for your max speed since your last fillup.

RE: Fail.
By foolsgambit11 on 12/31/2008 9:07:33 PM , Rating: 2
You don't need a jammer. Just wrapping some tin foil around the GPS will keep it from locating your position - therefore keep it from counting miles. Or you can wrap the tin foil around your cranium. Barring that, rather than a jammer, people will develop a black box you can plug into the GPS (using the plug for reading the GPS) that will roll back the miles some reasonable amount - not enough to be suspicious, but enough to save some money on taxes.

It seems to me like the GPS is way more susceptible to being tampered with than an odometer reading.

But it is possible to build a custom GPS that has no capability to store locational data, just a running odometer total. The question becomes, why?

By acejj26 on 12/31/2008 11:27:10 AM , Rating: 2
If the libs in Oregon are going to go through with this, there is a far less technical approach to this. Every year, require an inspection of each car and look at the odometer. Subtract the previous year's mileage from the current one and you see how many miles were driven. Voila.

That being said, this idea is pretty much retarded. How long before they put weight sensors in your car to see how much impact you have on the roads (if you carry more people, your car is heavier and you need to pay more for road maintenance)? Maybe later they will use the GPS capabilities to see if you did more city driving than highway driving and tax you even more because most cars get less MPG in the city.

Honestly, the current gas tax is already a tax on how much you drive. Leave it at that.

RE: why?
By theapparition on 12/31/2008 11:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly what I was going to suggest. Requiring an expensive system to monitor cars is ridiculous. Just have each years odometer reported with registration/inspection.

Just another money grab.

RE: why?
By afkrotch on 12/31/2008 12:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
Unless the odometer is broke. A broken odometer does not cause a car to fail inspection. It's not a safety issue or anything of the sort. Would piss me off if they forced me to fix crap that doesn't need to work. Like telling me to fix a hole in one of the seats.

RE: why?
By theapparition on 12/31/2008 12:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
Most states have laws that require working odometers, if not all.
A odometer IS a required item, not frivalous as you suggest. Imagine buying a car with only 3,000 miles, only to find out is has 73,000. How about warranties that expire at a certain mileage.
Tampering with the odometer is FRAUD. And all states have laws against fraud.

RE: why?
By mdogs444 on 12/31/2008 12:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
That could not work in the slightest either - as the method of subtracting last years usage, as well as the GPS solution both charge you for a major item that you shouldn't be charged for.

Lets look at some examples here. Say you have a long drive way, or you live on a farm and use your truck to drive all over your own land. What about if you live in a condominium or apartment or private drive subdivision? Those roads are private and paid for by your yearly/monthly assessment fees. But you'll still be charge mileage for driving on them?

This whole thing is stupid. Just another way to tax the people, instead of the state/local governments learning to cut back on spending and conserve, just like the regular people need to do when they have a money shortage. We don't get to go to work and demand a pay increase because we cannot manage our own finances appropriately.

Tax & Spend liberals...this is what they are all about.

RE: why?
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 12:47:54 PM , Rating: 2
Good point on private roads. Didn't think about that. If they're gonna do it was just thinking the odometer would be easier. It being based off GPS is still going to tax them on private roads though.

Honestly I'm not sure what to make of an idea of taxing based on mileage instead of a flat gas tax. On one side gas is cheaper. But then you've got another tax to pay separately. If they equal out the same, I guess the question is whats the point. But the fact that they're looking at this, they think they'll make more money off it.

And we hardly need to give government's more money to waste.

RE: why?
By Reclaimer77 on 12/31/2008 1:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
This idea is insanity incarnated. When are people going to take a stand ?

The people of Oregon should burn their state to the GROUND before something like this is even considered !

RE: why?
By ZmaxDP on 12/31/2008 1:18:46 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah! Scorched Earth!

Actually, they would probably use gasoline to start/fuel the fire. So, technically, they should wait till after the law is passed as their arson will be approximately 24 or 26 cents cheaper per gallon. They aren't driving with it, so they won't pay taxes on it at all!

RE: why?
By MadMan007 on 12/31/2008 6:49:31 PM , Rating: 2
Tax & Spend liberal or Deficit & Spend Neocon. They both suck.

RE: why?
By Varun on 12/31/2008 1:37:57 PM , Rating: 2
That won't work because you should not be charged state tax when driving out of state. If you take your family on vacation to Nevada, your OD would show that and in your scenario you would then be taxed state road tax for roads in Nevada.

Plus you are adding in a yearly inspection which will cost people time (which they will hate) and will force the state to hire people to actually do the inspections, have a building, etc. That is going to add up quick.

What they need to do is have an automated system where if you buy more gas in the state, then it is likely you drove on state roads, and therefore you get taxed more. Oh wait! They have that now!

Honestly this is one of the dumbest taxes I have ever heard of. The only fair tax is income tax. Just cut all the others and use income tax if you are worried about being unfair.

RE: why?
By ZmaxDP on 12/31/2008 1:55:54 PM , Rating: 2
Please correct: "The only fair tax is income tax."

Should be: "The only fair tax is no tax."

Income tax as it now stands is certainly not "fair" as I see it. I think a flat income tax would come close to being "fair", though I don't think it is completely "fair".

I could make an argument that sales tax is more "fair" than any income tax if I wanted, though once again the current system would need major revision to be truly "fair".

To me, fair means equal taxation, or just taxation. Still there are issues, is a head count tax equal? Technically, yes. Everyone pays 100 dollars a year. Done. Do I think that is fair? No. Everyone pays 10% of their income seems equal, just, and fair to me; but I can't claim to have researched it fully enough to say for sure (in my opinion).

We also need to ask the question, do we even want a "fair" tax? (Not to mention the oh so semantic - define "fair".) A "fair" tax taxes criminals the same as innocents, taxes rich the same as poor, taxes sick the same as healthy, etc...

Is it "fair" to use sales tax to tax a homeless, unemployed man when he buys cigarettes? What if he's buying a coat? Or Milk? Is it "fair" then? Maybe it is to me, but it may not be to you.

No tax scheme is truly fair as they all favor someone or some situation. There is bias in everything. Throw in the challenge of public opinion which seems to favor over-taxing the rich and under-taxing the poor on income taxes, and you've got the opinion problem too. The best tax isn't a fair one, it is the least unfair one to the most people.

(Not the most advantageous one for the most people which is what we've got now! This is why lower income tax percentages for the poor is a problem. They don't pay much in income taxes, but receive a lot of the services it pays for. So it is easy for them to say raise taxes for more services, they don't pay for them anyway. If those services were coming equally out of their paychecks, they'd be either more restrained in calls to raise taxes or much harder to ignore because they would be paying for them too.)

RE: why?
By William Gaatjes on 1/1/2009 2:53:37 PM , Rating: 2
As a side note :
In my country and europe in general , we have to bring our cars in every year for inspection at a licensed dealer or garage. This to improve the safety, durability and enviromental issues (is in a sense also safety, you do not want to breathe carbonmonoxide) of the vehicles. Depending on fuel type, vehicle type and release to the road date this has to be done after the third or fourt year. And from then on every year. The odometer is also noted every inspection as part of the build up of a history of the vehicle. I assume this yearly checkup is done also the states, then keeping track of milage is not really an issue. Not a garantuee that fraud cannot be commited but in general it works pretty good.

RE: why?
By William Gaatjes on 1/1/2009 2:54:45 PM , Rating: 2
But this gps based tax is still nonsense i forgot to add.

Gas tax already taxes us by mileage
By chrisld on 12/31/2008 1:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
Has the world gone insane? I know the government would like to tax us for everything and preferably twice or more times for the same thing so that they can spend more on expenses and foreign wars. However, let us not forget that there are already huge taxes on gasoline. That automatically taxes us for not only mileage but also how efficient our vehicle is.

Unless we are all keen to pay tax for the same thing twice, I think we should resist this one.

RE: Gas tax already taxes us by mileage
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 1:49:36 PM , Rating: 2
Did you even read the article? It clearly says that people were getting a refund for the taxes they paid on gas.

I still agree that this is a bad idea. But in all honesty, roads have to be paid for. Currently that is done largely through fuel taxes. As higher mileage vehicles become more prevalent, those revenues go down. So you either cut spending on roads leading to degradation, raise taxes which leads to even less fuel being purchased (through reduced driving and/or purchasing more higher mpg vehicles), or figure out a new way to pay for them.

By Reclaimer77 on 12/31/2008 1:56:09 PM , Rating: 1
Are you assuming the cost to build and maintain roads even comes CLOSE to the huge budgets states set aside for road funding ?

Here in Charlotte our roads are SHIT. What did the government do to help drivers out ? They took millions from the road fund and used it to build a light rail. Which then went MILLIONS over budget.

RE: Gas tax already taxes us by mileage
By Suntan on 12/31/2008 2:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
raise taxes which leads to even less fuel being purchased (through reduced driving and/or purchasing more higher mpg vehicles

But this is a win-win.

Either you get more tax revinue to repair the road, or you get less traffic on the roads and they don't wear out as quickly.


By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 3:46:22 PM , Rating: 2
You seem to have missed where I said people purchase higher mileage vehicles. If you get 60 mpg and I get 30 mpg, our cars weight the same, and we both drive the same distance each day, you contribute less to the up keep of the roads than me despite using them the same amount.

Yes a lighter vehicle impacts the roads less than a heavier vehicle (that presumable gets worse mpg), but I hardly think the difference is so much less that it offsets the lost tax revenue over time.

RE: Gas tax already taxes us by mileage
By chrisld on 12/31/2008 3:17:29 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but it makes no sense. Damage on roads is surely some function of mileage x weight of vehicle so it is fair that those using heavier vehicles pay more per mile as they cause more wear. Thus, as heavier vehicles use more fuel, the extant fuel tax already takes care of this. This is just an attempt to track us and get more taxes out of us.

I bet the fuel tax is a percentage of the gas price. So the government would have been really happy with the recent huge gas price. Now the price is lower and their income dropped, they want to find a way to up the amount we pay.

By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 3:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
The federal gasoline tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. It is not a percentage of the current price of gasoline. At least not yet.

With our new incoming administration favoring extremely high gas prices, I could see them wanting to change the tax to be a percentage of the current price of gas. So then you'd have to take out the 18.4 cents + state tax from the price of gas. Pump your gas. Calculate federal tax. Then add in state tax per gallon. This would require fuel pumps to be reprogrammed which is a good reason to hope this wouldn't happen.

But given that Obama sees oil companies as having bottomless pockets, I don't see him caring what effect it has on businesses (since the oil companies largely do not own stations which pump their gas).

Simpler solution
By nafhan on 12/31/2008 11:29:50 AM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't raising taxes on gas be a simpler and more effective solution?
As others have already mentioned, fuel usage is directly tied to the amount of driving done (duh), and raising taxes would take into account heavier vehicles with poor fuel mileage putting more of an impact on the road. Also, it would reduce environmental impact as more expensive fuel leads to less fuel usage (more efficient vehicles and/or less driving).

RE: Simpler solution
By Bateluer on 12/31/2008 12:54:18 PM , Rating: 1
Because that would drive more people to using increasingly fuel efficient vehicles, or alternative transportation, further increasing their tax revenue.

RE: Simpler solution
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 1:37:29 PM , Rating: 2
You mean decreasing their tax revenue.

RE: Simpler solution
By ZmaxDP on 12/31/2008 1:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily, gas taxes have their own problems.

First, do Suburbans at 5000lb ans 12 MPG have an equally proportionate increased impact on infrastructure over a 3500lb 45 MPG Prius? No.

As vehicles switch from fossil fuels to electric propulsion, how do we pay for roads then? The gas tax won't get us squat in that scenario.

Increasing the gas tax will increase prices in consumer products that need transportation in their manufacture or distribution chain - read ALL products. The real reason the state is doing this is to try and reduce the tax burden on transportation dependent businesses (most) and shift it elsewhere. Oregon is a very rural state, and in such states transportation can be a major cost for businesses. This is basically a business tax cut in Oregon. About the only business sector this wouldn't significantly impact is the Tech/Software sector.

Increasing the tax would also eventually reduce the number of miles driven in your scenario (I'm assuming it is raised enough to actually inhibit driving) so it would actually tend to reduce revenue for infrastructure over time, not increase it.

Gas taxes also unfairly tax less fortunate people more in two ways. First, older cars are usually less efficient. Poorer people typicall drive older, less efficient cars. Therefore, they use more gas per mile than someone who can go out and buy a newer more efficient car. So, they pay more taxes per mile driven.

Second, at least in most southern and western stated including Oregon, housing prices near job centers (downtown, commercial districts) are much higher. So, the people who tend to live closest to work are the more affluent. In Dallas for instance, a family making 60K/year with no children is best case going to find an affordable house to live in 30 to 50 miles from down town. Apartments aren't much better at about 20 miles out. If you make 160K/year with no children you can get a home within 10 miles, and an apartment 3 blocks away. Who do you think drives more, and it isn't by choice. Given, this isn't directly related as either scheme would tax people in this situation more than people that live closer, but it is still an issue with our current system.

Last, it would help if you stated the solution you're looking for. It doesn't seem to be the same one the State is looking for based on your comment.

RE: Simpler solution
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 1:43:36 PM , Rating: 2
With a mileage tax though, your second point would still favor the wealthy though since they drive less as they live closer.

There really is no way to better this situation. Short of taxing the rich a higher rate per mile than those who are poor. Which I wouldn't put past our government. Because we gotta punish those rich people you know. Damn them for being successful.

One thing I haven't seen anyone mention is the increased number of unregistered vehicles this would put on the road as people are unable or unwilling to pay the mileage tax.

RE: Simpler solution
By ZmaxDP on 12/31/2008 4:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly what I was trying to say at the end of that paragraph. Either the by mile or by gallon tax don't address this problem directly, though charging by mile would theoretically reduce the tax burden somewhat on less efficient older vehicles.

What I'd like to see are some construction incentives from the new administration to encourage urban mixed use development. This would be a much better expenditure of 700 billion dollars than the current program they've picked...

how much money...
By superunknown98 on 12/31/2008 11:22:45 AM , Rating: 2
Would this new tax bring in compared to the old gas tax. Is 1.2 cents a mile going to cover the 24 cents per gallon, divided over the states car population.

If you car gets 20mpg, the tax would even out, but if the majority of Oregons vechicles average more than 20mpg then the state would loose money.

I hope the state did their maths right!

RE: how much money...
By superunknown98 on 12/31/2008 11:24:27 AM , Rating: 2
I think I meant the vehicle owner would loose money!

RE: how much money...
By acejj26 on 12/31/2008 11:28:52 AM , Rating: 2
I think you meant the vehicle owner would lose money.

RE: how much money...
By superunknown98 on 12/31/2008 11:35:54 AM , Rating: 2
I think I also meant to say, the state would loose money, when the price of gas returns to 4 dollars a gallon, and people stop driving.

RE: how much money...
By bodar on 12/31/2008 4:41:48 PM , Rating: 2

I forgive you though, since you named yourself after Soundgarden's best album.

Srsly WTF
By CiaccioJ on 12/31/2008 12:49:56 PM , Rating: 3
This is ridiculous, taxing people based on how many miles they drive, not how big or heavy their car/ truck is. I don't think the writer of this article understands that the people with the heavier cars need to pay more because those are the ones that destroy the road.

What about out of staters? Will they just not have to pay a gas tax? I could imagine that becoming a big deal.

This is just sensationalism. Fear not.

For those concerned with the *tracking* aspect of legislation, your worries are misplaced.

What do you think happens every time you go through an automated toll booth?

Or, even every time you swipe that credit/ debit card.

You've been tracked for years, now it's just in your face.

RE: Srsly WTF
By Ringold on 12/31/2008 5:44:07 PM , Rating: 2
What do you think happens every time you go through an automated toll booth?

If we go through a private toll booth, it's a willing choice between a supplier and a consumer. The private entity has our data, but I trust private companies with my data such as that more than the government. Worst-case scenario, a private toll company uses the data to figure out what roads are in the highest demand and maybe send me junk mail about a store thats along my route or something. Government has historically been more insidious. Sure, government can spy on companies or make them their pawns, but at least there's one level of defense between citizen and state as opposed to none at all. (Didn't some telecoms say no to the wiretapping requests?)

If we are tracked by government mandate, there is no choice involved, no control, no accountability, no transparency. And since when does previous behavior excuse more future behavior?

I don't think you understand or appreciate the libertarian position on privacy, but thats okay. Most people either dont or just don't care. Government knows best..

RE: Srsly WTF
By Xavitar on 12/31/2008 6:50:48 PM , Rating: 2
For those concerned with the *tracking* aspect of legislation, your worries are misplaced.

What do you think happens every time you go through an automated toll booth?

Or, even every time you swipe that credit/ debit card.

You've been tracked for years, now it's just in your face.

It's okay, fatty. You're already 120 lbs. overweight, so go ahead and eat a few more donuts. What can a couple of thousand extra calories hurt, right?

Nice logic, Heart Attack Man.

All the things you listed are elective conveniences. What Oregon is considering doing is mandating an invasion of privacy. There is a huge distinction between a choice made and a choice made for you. There is a huge distinction between willfully giving something away -- in this case, privacy -- and having the government take it from you.

Lots of people sell their homes, but few look forward to getting a notice of seizure by eminent domain. Well, guess what? My privacy is not the eminent domain of the government. It's mine, and they can't f**king have it.

RE: Srsly WTF
By Fritzr on 1/2/2009 1:06:08 AM , Rating: 2
Out of Staters? Read the article again ... completely this time.

There are two options:
1) Register and install a mileage GPS ... you pay per mile
2) Do not use a mileage GPS ... you pay a gallon tax slightly higher than current.
(For obvious reasons Out of Staters use option 2)

So lets say mileage tax is 1.2 cents per mile and gallon tax is 48 cents per mile...

40miles tax==1 gallon tax
You get 25mpg so taxes are 25*1.2 per gallon or 48 cents
30 cents per gallon vs 48 cents per gallon ... you want that GPS so you can pay mileage tax
Arty bought a hybrid and gets 60mpg average so taxes are 60*1.2 per gallon or 48 cents
72 cents per gallon vs 48 cents per gallon ... you can bet that Arty will not bother with the paperwork needed to get that GPS.

Of course if it is required for an Oregon registered car you will start seeing a lot of out of state license plates on high mileage cars. That is not speculation. Washington state's annual registration fees result in a lot of Idaho and Oregon license plates in Washington driveways :P

Washington also has an emission inspection that is required in the city I live in. We have a lot of cars that suddenly moved out of the city and now receive their mail at Post Office boxes in the surrounding county.

Who could possibly favor this?
By Yawgm0th on 12/31/2008 1:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone who values social, individual freedom -- perhaps the last true American value -- can't possibly be in favor of this. Regardless of what the government uses the data for or does not use it, it exists. An organization would have access to GPS data showing your movements. Certainly, the data can be analyzed and a relevant mileage value extrapolated, but the data showing one's locations still exists at some point. From a technical standpoint, even if all parties involved are trusted completely (which they ought not be), this is an indefensible security risk.

It is impossible to avoid privacy concerns and actually live in the information age, but government-mandated privacy risks and violations are inherently wrong. This proposal is an affront to American values regardless of how this is spun.

As explained in other comments, this doesn't even make taxing more "fair" since heavier vehicles do have a larger impact on roads. Regardless, the "fairness" of transportation funding is far more complicated than how far you drive or where you drive. It's a silly concept to begin with that only a hack of a legislator would have conceived.

So again, what group on the vast political spectrum supports this? It's an arbitrary tax that could be more effectively applied in other ways, causes major privacy concerns, and adds excessive overhead and bureaucracy. The Democratic governor supporting it doesn't fit the shoes of a Democrat or Republican -- restricting our right to privacy is certainly not a Democratic ideal (nor a d emocratic one) -- and the self-defeating unfair tax should irritate Democrats and Republicans alike. The only spot in the political ideology spectrum compatible with this nonsense is totalitarianism.

What kind of a fool could come up with or support this and think it adds fairness? Doubling the gas tax (which would be ridiculous) would be less of an affront to freedom and more fair.

RE: Who could possibly favor this?
By Suntan on 12/31/2008 2:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, I find people that actually use the word “affront” are a little shifty…

Tirade aside, Jim down at the county assessor’s office already knows where you live, how much you make what your wife does for a living, all the major purchases you’ve made in your life, etc. etc. Do you *really* think he cares where your car was parked last night?

Take it down just a little with the tinfoil.


RE: Who could possibly favor this?
By Yawgm0th on 12/31/2008 3:54:56 PM , Rating: 2
Knowing where I live and knowing where I am are two very different things. Being able to track me with GPS is a much more serious privacy concern. I want many people to know where I live, but I don't anyone to know where I am or where I have been at all times. If I'm going to permit the possibility because I want a feature (say, GPS on my phone), I will be trusting an organization or individual of my choosing with the full knowledge that this trust can be broken or any security method circumvented.

This law would force (this is important) me to either not drive (if I lived in Oregon) or to trust the government as well as another organization with very important private information. Even if I trust the government's intentions, I do not trust the security nor a commercial organizations intentions (since those are always profit, not to ensure my welfare or rights).

It is an affront to American principles because the government is in some way taking more control over our lives without any tangible benefit to us. It is a privacy concern no matter your perspective, and it's far from being a necessary or useful one.

In any case, my tinfoil hat is rarely worn and I realize worse things could certainly happen and that this system would probably not be a huge privacy concern in practice. My point was that there is nothing good about this. It is counter-productive to its advertised intentions, intrusive, expensive, and overall poorly thought out. In principle and practice it is flawed.

By kilkennycat on 12/31/2008 4:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
I live in Oregon and have to continually read about or listen to the governor's hare-brained "green" schemes. Not that I don't believe in conservation intelligently implemented. I own a Toyota Yaris together with its highway (measured) consumption of 43 miles/US gallon and afaik Oregon is also the top state for ownership of hybrids. I have zero intention of participating in this hare-brained scheme and since Oregon uses ballot-box referendums on many issues, you can guarantee a ballot measure on this subject with an appropriate vote by me. The majority of other developed country in the world uses gas taxes and vehicles taxes ( the latter graduated according to engine capacity or total emissions) in a dual function of controlling consumption and as a prime revenue generator for their General Fund. This use of gas and vehicle taxes grows out of the fact that most developed countries have been net importers of oil products for ever and their economic health has been critically dependent on tight control of oil consumption and the promotion of public transport. The US is a net importer of oil only because of its profligate use of that precious resource over the last 50 years.

By bigbrent88 on 12/31/2008 4:58:30 PM , Rating: 2
What happens when you need to fill up a gas can for lawn equipement, you pay that gas tax? Using this system your lawn mower isn't paying state taxes! Just trying to look on the bright side.

By MadMan007 on 12/31/2008 7:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
I can see it now, everyone will be driving lawn mowers for their around town errands. Beautiful.

Absolutely not
By icrf on 12/31/2008 11:18:28 AM , Rating: 3
A loaded Ford F350 and a commuting Toyota Yaris have a different impact on the road, per mile, so taxing them per mile is just giving a break to heavier vehicles at the expense of the lighter ones. If you're buying fuel to use on your farm, it makes sense to complain, but whining because a Fit pays a half your tax burden while driving more miles is BS.

RE: Absolutely not
By sdoorex on 12/31/2008 2:06:05 PM , Rating: 2
If you're buying fuel to use on your farm, it makes sense to complain

In many states, you don't have to pay tax on fuel used for farm purposes. I know this is true for CO, IA, MT, and ND due to my family running farms. The only restriction is you have to log your usage and must have "farm" plates on your vehicles.

This entire scheme seems like an excuse to charge more tax, the benefit those who drive larger vehicles(upper classes), or a reason to track drivers for other purposes. I wouldn't be surprised if this passes and people started getting speeding tickets because the GPS tracked speed as well.

Do away with mandatory taxes.
By HostileEffect on 12/31/2008 1:09:55 PM , Rating: 2
I personally wouldn't mind seeing a few large social tests done using a different "opt-in" taxation. The taxation duration needs to be long enough to make profit without people doing a one night stand.

Want to drive on public roads? Sign up for 10 years of taxes.
Want to send your kids to public school? school tax 22 years.
Want a government service? Pay for it.
Not that the government should be providing services other than defense, peace keeping, among other things government is good at.
No more taxing what people already own!

This way, you pay for what you need and the government makes a profit, it receives tax money, and you don't pay for something you don't need, want, or ever knew existed!

As for the privacy concerns... America killed its self many years ago, the current country is just a shadow of America rotting from the inside out. I hope I'm wrong though...

By HostileEffect on 12/31/2008 1:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
Hit reply too soon, but such a form of taxes would mean that our government would need to slim down and stop trying to rule peoples lives.

By xXxTweakxXx on 12/31/2008 1:41:00 PM , Rating: 2
Do the math, you will end up paying more if they tax you by mileage

RE: Math
By afkrotch on 12/31/2008 2:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
If you get extremely horrible gas mileage, you can end up saving money this way. I think it's a bad idea personally.

There's times I barely drive and other times where I throw on a couple thousand miles on my car in a month. I usually lean towards driving a lot, then barely.

Foot in the door
By EasyAce on 12/31/2008 3:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
Well I live in Oregon and I can promise you that the first thing that I'll do is disable the GPS. The reason they want GPS is so that once people get used to it they the government can start using the GPS system to catch traffic law violators. Oregon has become a very anti-car state and it's worse if you ride a motorcycle.

RE: Foot in the door
By Xavitar on 12/31/2008 7:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. People got EZ-Passes and I-Passes and such because it was convenient. Then after ten years the government said, "Oh, and by the way, we're going to record your average speed between checkpoints and fine you for speeding."

Oh, and by the way. Oh, and by the way.

By Jellodyne on 12/31/2008 11:50:42 AM , Rating: 3
Road wear and tear is exponentially more as a vehicle's weight raises.

Those who drive heavier vehicles for whatever reason should pay more of the road taxes. Since heavier vehicles tend to use more gas the current system works. And since you use more gas the more miles you drive, the current system works.

What about the 'unfair' tax burden on professionals who are required to drive heavier vehicles? Like maybe some guy named Joe who is, lets say a plumber and drives a heavy work truck? Let Joe's customers deal with it. If his expenses are higher he can just charge more. All the other plumbers with heavy trucks do too. The tax is to pay for the roads which his heavy vehicle causes to need more repair to the road per mile.

By afkrotch on 12/31/2008 11:55:00 AM , Rating: 2
This sounds pretty stupid. Why not just do like other countries and have a road tax? Depending on the engine size, depends on how much you'll be paying. Course each car you own will have a road tax on it.

In England, I think I was paying 200 quid a year for a 2.2L car.

In Japan, I was paying 3000 yen a year for road tax. That was on my 0.6L car.

I'd rather deal with that, then having some gps sitting in the car that could break and force me to have to pay to fix it. Who's pocket is it coming out of if it does break? Rather have just a monthly amount put into the state tax.

By mherlund on 12/31/2008 2:27:06 PM , Rating: 2
While the idea is kind of neat, just think of the simplicity factor of a strait gas tax vs. this. So what happens when the GPS looses signal and stops counting the miles? Also GPS would be more "hackable" than a gas tax.

How much you wanna bet....
By bodar on 12/31/2008 5:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
... Governor Genius here just "happens" to know a company who is "uniquely qualified" to implement this GPS system for Oregon? Always follow the money.

By lucyfek on 1/1/2009 12:27:05 PM , Rating: 2
plus it wont work in cities (highrises in downtown) and the privacy issue.
what a dumb idea, keep it simple stupid, tax gasoline.

omg tech overkill
By androticus on 1/1/2009 4:39:52 PM , Rating: 2
This is so typical of slobbering government bureaucrats desperate to be "tech savvy" who come up with a ridiculously over-complex scheme.

Want to tax by mileage? How about levying the fee yearly when the driver renews the registration?

Also, the gas tax IS fair. Heavier vehicles are harder on roads. And it does provide a built-in incentive for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Finally, it charges visitors and locals alike, unlike the complicated mileage scheme proposed, which will either let visitors go without paying, or add a complicated burden to them.

Stupidness state
By toyotabedzrock on 1/1/2009 10:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
There are so many problems with this plan.

Who pays for millions of gps units?

Data transmission costs, and spectrum usage. Can you imagine the millions of cars trying to transmit data during rush hour, it would bring any cellular system to its knees.

If the data is not acquired in real time then it is too easy to cheat, or just claim you didn't drive and don't turn in your data.

Large commercial vehicles cause more road damage hence them paying more is fair. In fact since it requires more fuel to move more weight i would say fuel use is a perfect way to tax.

It would be the elimination of one of the most fundamental parts of privacy. And it wouldn't take the police long before they started to abuse it.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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