Blue State To Start Tracking American People’s Cars

Photo by Nabeel Syed on Unsplash

( – As states search for methods to compensate for dwindling gas tax revenue, California is leading the way with a novel approach.

The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) is experimenting with a “road charge” pilot program that assesses drivers based on the miles they travel rather than the volume of gas they buy. This initiative is in response to projections that gas tax revenues will decline in the future.

Officials from CalSTA revealed to FOX Business that the pilot program, initiated by a 2021 law, is designed to evaluate the viability of alternative funding mechanisms for maintaining the state’s highways. They suggest that this approach could potentially offer cost savings for some drivers under certain conditions.

The program is voluntary, with participants potentially receiving up to $400 in incentives to aid the state in testing the new system. They will pay varying road charge rates and provide feedback on their experiences. Participants have several options for reporting their mileage, including manual odometer readings, an onboard plug-in device with or without GPS, or vehicle telematics without GPS tracking.

The exploration of alternative revenue streams began with the enactment of Senate Bill 1077 in 2014, which Caltrans stated was necessary due to the outdated gas tax system. With the decrease in gasoline and diesel vehicle use, sustaining California’s $2.5 trillion economy is a challenge, as noted in a 2017 Caltrans report.

Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at Price Futures Group and a FOX Business contributor, commented on the significant role gas taxes play in both federal and state economies, a fact often overlooked by politicians.

President Biden’s goal to have 50% of all new vehicles sold be electric by 2030, driven by reduced vehicle costs and enhanced EV infrastructure, has led to a significant increase in electric vehicle sales since his inauguration.

However, Flynn pointed out that even with a low percentage of electric vehicles currently, states like California are already facing financial pressures. He attributes part of the reason for the state’s recent budget deficit to the impact of these vehicles.

Flynn criticized the current administration’s efforts to phase out the oil and gas industry in favor of a sector that depends on subsidies. He argued that this necessitates finding new sources of tax revenue to replace those provided by the oil and gas industry.

Flynn also raised privacy concerns about the road charge pilot, particularly the use of GPS in tracking vehicles, though he acknowledged the state agency’s assurances that participants’ data would be anonymized and personal information deleted after the pilot.

Ultimately, any decision to implement a road charge program would require broad public involvement and legislative approval, which the administration has not yet sought.

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