Texas Transportation Commission – Taxing by the Mile

Michael W. Shpiro, staff writer for the Waco Tribune-Herald, reports that the Texas Transportation Commission tasked the Highway User Fee Exploratory Committee to evaluate the idea to charge drivers by the miles they drive and not by the gallons of fuel they buy.

Desperate Times Require Desperate Measures

Fact: TxDOT has not enough funding to build and repair our highways. For this reason, TxDOT requires local financial commitment before launching new road projects.

All major Rockwall County roads are in fact State highways and, although the smallest county of 254, we desperately need higher-capacity roadways to relieve burgeoning traffic that threatens to harm local commerce and our quality of life.

In2008 Rockwall County citizens voted to approve a 100 million-dollar bond package to widen and improve State Highways 740, 549, 276 and 66. As a member of the 2008 Road Bond Committee, I fully supported it. Our needs are obvious as is TxDOT’s lack of funding.

Show Me the Money!

Back in the sixties gasoline cost roughly 25 cents per gallon and fuel tax was 9 cents per gallon. Here these many years later, practically all prices have inflated ten times: gasoline is $2.50 per gallon, modest homes are $100,000 vs. $10,000 back then.

If all costs followed the same linear increase, fuel taxes would now be 90 cents per gallon. Present fuel tax includes 18 cents Federal tax and 20 cents State tax. Out of the 20 cents, 15 cents goes to TxDOT. A fraction of the 18-cent Federal tax returns to the State of Texas.

So where does all our fuel tax money go? The Feds get their big share, bureaucratic inefficiency gets its pound of flesh, but here is the big one: 25% is siphoned off for school funding. (see diagram below)

Socialistic “re-distribution” of State funds began with the 1993 “Robin Hood” Senate Bill 7.

Texas Fuel Tax Distribution Chart

Roads Scholarship

As gasoline fuel price increases we see a corresponding decline in its purchase, due in part to simple family economics and due in large part to more fuel-efficient vehicles. Therefore, the things we do to reduce our day to day cost of living dramatically affect highway funding.

In light of our current (2009) economic outlook, dampened by multi-trillion dollar national debt, inflation and rising unemployment, TxDOT is quickly running out of money. If so, who will pay for Rockwall County State highways? I suggest we, the citizens of Rockwall County will be stuck with the entire bill. If that happens, our property tax will go sky-high.

Back on Track – Mileage Charge

My simple mind reasons that we already pay by the mile. Where does all that gasoline and diesel go? It powers our vehicles – there is a direct correlation between the miles we drive and the amount of fuels we buy. Does the mileage charge penalize fuel-efficient vehicles? I don’t like it.

Sen. John Carona proposes increasing fuel tax that has not changed since 1991. However, will increasing fuel tax become the object of plunder by our State Legislature?

What Will YOU Do?

Your State Representative and Senator need to hear from you. Do you favor a mileage tax? Do you believe we have a critical need for roads? Is it reasonable to increase the fuel tax while assuring the increase goes 100% to TxDOT?

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