WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn — an idea that has angered drivers in some states where it has been proposed.
Gasoline taxes that for nearly half a century have paid for the federal share of highway and bridge construction can no longer be counted on to raise enough money to keep the nation's transportation system moving, LaHood said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled," the former Illinois Republican lawmaker said.
Most transportation experts see a vehicle miles traveled tax as a long-term solution, but Congress is being urged to move in that direction now by funding pilot projects.
The idea also is gaining ground in several states. Governors in Idaho and Rhode Island are talking about such programs, and a North Carolina panel suggested in December the state start charging motorists a quarter-cent for every mile as a substitute for the gas tax.
A tentative plan in Massachusetts to use GPS chips in vehicles to charge motorists by the mile has drawn complaints from drivers who say it's an Orwellian intrusion by government into the lives of citizens. Other motorists say it eliminates an incentive to drive more fuel-efficient cars since gas guzzlers will be taxed at the same rate as fuel sippers.
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