State representative pushing to replace gas tax with a tax that measures lane mile usage

Charging stations for electric vehicles
Posted at 6:40 AM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 08:16:11-04

(WXYZ) — With record-high gas prices, more people are turning towards buying electric vehicles, but this trend could create a major deficit in funding to fix the roads because that money comes from state gas tax.

Right now, Michigan taxes drivers 27 cents a gallon with an additional 6% sales tax. That money goes towards not only our roads but schools and local governments.

Now, lawmakers are considering a way to make sure electric vehicle drivers contribute to those funds.

One state representative wants drivers to start paying taxes for every lane mile used versus how often drivers fill up their tanks.

While some say this would help make up for the money lost, the question now is how to execute this idea.

“The biggest reason we drive electric is so we can save some money on gas," Tesla driver Mohammad Khan said.

He's owned his Tesla for 7 months now.

"Worth it? Yes go get yourself a Tesla," he said.

So the idea of coughing up money towards taxes he’s avoiding is leaving him doubting if that money would even be helpful.

"I mean the roads have been messed up for the last 15 years. They never fix them and now they have to take this money to fix the roads," he said.

However, researchers are saying not making any changes will put Michigan out of billions of dollars.

"Assuming that half of all vehicles on the roads become electric vehicles by 2050, well then gas tax brings in $2 billion less in revenue,” Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan Flint Chris Douglas said.

He says even if half of Michigan drivers don’t make the switch to electric by 2050, Michigan stands to lose $1 billion based on current trends.

Not only because people are driving electric, but because newer cars are getting better gas mileage.

So state representative Scott Vansingel is working on drafting a bill to provide funds for a study and pilot program that will examine lane miles used instead of the amount of gas filled.

“We would probably pick a small region of that state, and maybe have volunteers to sign up and be a part of the study,” Vansingel said.

He says personally, he would like to see an automated approach to reporting lane miles where technology, either through the car or a phone app, could report lane miles to the Secretary of State.

But, there is concern big brother is watching.

“We would have to make crystal clear in legislation that data in that nature will not be gathered or retained. All the Secretary of State needs to know is how many miles you traveled, not where, and right now your cell phone tracks you more than what most people realize. You’re already being followed.” Vansingel said.

But not all Tesla drivers thought the tax was a bad idea.

“It’s nice to haven’t had to pay it so far, but on the same token, I like smooth roads for my nice Tesla.”

One concern EV drivers have are the high registration fees they have to pay to make up for not paying a gas tax. 7 Action New's Ali Hoxie asked Vansingel if that would go away and he said that is up to debate.

He hopes legislation is introduced for a pilot program in September.