Assbackwards road funding ideas

I was watching State Senator Mike Vehle talk about road funding ideas on 100 Eyes yesterday and just about spit out my coffee. One of the ideas is to PUNISH hybrid and electric car users. Mike suggested that Electric car users should pay an additional $80 registration fee, and Hybrid an additional $40, because they don’t use as much gas or no gas at all. Ludicrous. Most of those vehicles are very light, and do little damage to the roads, my Hybrid weighs under 1,500 lbs. (and the way I drive it, I doubt it touches the road much at all). Basically, what Mike is saying is that we should start charging people who ride bikes on the roads, because hey, they are using the roads and not contributing a gas tax.

You have to realize, we also fund road maintenance through sales taxes to, something us hippy Hybrid drivers and bicyclists also pay.

He also suggested that in the future we use a satellite monitoring system to track mileage. Really?! That is one of the most jackass ideas I have heard so far.

Let’s face it, the solutions are simple, and Mr. Content Strategist Lalley brought one of them up.

“Why not just lift all the exemptions that exist?”


For instance, farmers not having to pay registration on monster tractors and trailers that tear the crap out of the roads. START CHARGING THEM! Farming is a business, just like a contractor, and if they have to register their vehicles, farmers should to.

There are also other fair and equitable ways;

– Raise the gas tax.

– Charge registration based on weight and usage of vehicle. The heavier the vehicle, the more you pay.

– Tax vehicles the same rate as food and utilities. This idea is way past due.

– Have dealerships charge taxes at the time of purchase and give you license plates, why are we using county resources for this? Grocery stores collect taxes for the state, why can’t car dealerships? (This was a suggestion by commissioner Jeff Barth)

Once again the brain trust we call our state legislature wants to punish the poor and wise instead of the people who are actually damaging our roads the most. And we keep re-electing these fools.


#1 Dan Daily on 12.04.14 at 4:26 pm

Go ahead, tax the electric cars. The state will go broke because there aren’t that many.

They’re common in California. You can use the car pool lane with driver and no passengers. They’re uncommon here because batteries don’t last in subzero weather and they don’t get warm (no hot water for heat).

Keep the 2% sales tax collected by counties. People can’t afford newer cars without it. Newer cars are safer and more reliable in winter.

#2 LJL on 12.04.14 at 5:38 pm

This is not a new idea. MN has been toying with the idea of a yearly mileage tax for hybrids and Washington has been testing a wireless transponder that will be installed to provide the state with usage for hybrids.

Both left wing nut democrat states addicted to fat spending and high taxes.

No different than tobacco. As usage goes down taxes go up.

#3 l3wis on 12.04.14 at 7:27 pm

You get what I am saying though, right LJL? Hybrids aren’t damaging the roads and have a low impact on the environment. Tractors tear up all the county roads and pay no tax. As far as I am concerned, Farming is a business enterprise just like a contractor, they should pay the same taxes.

#4 Hornguy on 12.04.14 at 7:55 pm

A 2,600-pound hybrid has the same impact on the road as a 2,600-pound non-hybrid. So let’s be clear, the non-hybrid owner is paying more, but it’s not because they’re actually causing more wear.

There’s really no perfect science to road funding. A vehicle that drives more inflicts more wear than an identical vehicle driven less. Heavier vehicles cause more wear than lighter vehicles. Someone who drives a Lexus can probably better afford to contribute more than someone driving a Honda. And we can assume there are enough tinfoil hat wearers to make transponders an unlikely solution for the time being – although if one is going to consider usage as part of highway funding, it’s way more accurate than the gas tax, which is increasingly a poor substitute.

If it were me, I would assess an annual fee based in part on the value of the vehicle (maybe MSRP reduced on a sliding scale year-by-year, like in Minnesota) and in part on weight (like in South Dakota). I’d probably lower the tax on unleaded and increase the tax on diesel, to reflect that vehicles using diesel are usually heavier. I’d *definitely* subject vehicle purchases to the full sales tax. Maybe use transponders on an opt-in basis for now and develop a mechanism to allow those people to not pay fuel tax at the pump (if I can access a car2go by waving a card on the windshield, there’s surely a way to do this as well).

The real rub is that there’s no way to solve this problem with the kind of super-narrow, targeted taxation that the folks in Pierre adore. Which is why the problem likely won’t get solved.

#5 grudznick on 12.04.14 at 8:08 pm

Indeed. Wheels on the ground cause damage and those beep beep electric cars need to pay their share for all the electric generating oil burning coal plants with nuclear waste output that they use to create their wasteful little trickle of inefficient electricity.

I say, burn wood, boil water, create steam. There is our future, along with sailing.

#6 enough of Shape Places and MMM legacy on 12.04.14 at 9:07 pm

again, the need to keep inflating fees and gearing up to get us to at least 75% taxation like France is just disgusting. A semi truck does the most damage, it sets up a shock wave well in front of it rolling down the highways. They pay fees but not enough to cover maintenance.
Can you imagine a hybrid to reduce fossil fuel use getting an unfair tax burden placed upon it. Who is running the country, the people or are the oil companies. Buy a hybrid and expect the state to chase you for more taxes. I suppose if you get a speeding ticket the hybrid owner will pay a lot more too. Funny the insurance companies haven’t gotten on the band wagon to charge more too as a battery might leak on the road, not much more hazardous than oil, but a little sulfuric acid or the lithium ion chemicals creating an environmental disaster. Good grief

#7 LJL on 12.04.14 at 9:31 pm

Hybrids work just fine here. There are no battery or heater issues for our climate. It is fact that If everyone purchased an electric “plug-in” car we would have rolling blackouts and our utility bills will increase by 300%.

Commercial vehicles already pay based on tonnage. A car or pickup have very little difference as far as wear and tear. A very large percentage of ag traffic is done on rural gravel roads which are cheap to maintain.Most detrimental to our roads is our climate and freeze thaw cycles.

A constant bullshit news cycle is creating this controversy. Revenues from fuel tax have decreased very little. I just read last week that truck sales are red hot due to low gas price. People are dumb and ags will still be burnt.

If you want to see something astounding about traffic trends research the decline in the number of youth who are driving. Keep in mind, this is just a trend.

The real problem is spending money on shit we don’t need and neglecting to pay for the things we have to have. I believe I heard today that disposable income is now at a 10 year low so there’s no more money to tax.

You need to research how much folks are spending on auto tax in Minnesota and ask yourself if you have that extra cash to spend. It’s A LOT more in taxes over there and their roads are just as shitty. This is no joke: there is a stretch of interstate just west of Albert lea that has a sign warning you of rough road and move to the left lane for safety.

#8 rufusx on 12.04.14 at 9:33 pm

That narrowly targeted taxation is all the rage in Pierre because it’s simple and “easy to understand”. You don’t want to try to get legislators confused with any “too complicated”, like thinking about anything could effect more than one segment of the economy at a time.

As to taxing farm vehicles, farm fuel, etc. and getting rid of all the exemptions in SD law (there are more “retail” transactions exempt from SD sales tax than it is collected on) – been saying that for YEARS.

There are a total of about 30,000 farmers and ranchers in SD (3% of our population) – yet, almost all state policy is geared to favor those few folks.

#9 teatime on 12.04.14 at 9:49 pm

I don’t think farm equipment is doing that much damage. There are only two times a year they are traveling from field to field — spring planting and fall harvest. Yes, they can be big and heave, but it’s usually only a few miles and not for hours and hours. Now, their loaded grain trucks might be more to blame, but they are subject to weight limits and there are plenty that get caught overloaded. I think it is the sheriff that carries the portable scales, but I’m not positive on that.

#10 LJL on 12.04.14 at 9:49 pm

Oh and BTW.

Farmers and developers pay much less tax on certain fuels. You may notice some diesel pumps sell transportation fuel and others “dyed diesel”. Dyed fuels can be used in vehicles that aren’t registered and considered ag or construction. So theres a good place to start taxing for equality.

#11 rufusx on 12.05.14 at 2:32 pm

If the state were to start taxing everything that is currently exempt -our sales tax RATE could be cut to half – or less -of what it currently is. I.E., down to 2%. And state government would not suffer one penny.

#12 Tom H. on 12.05.14 at 8:59 pm

Or we could, you know, start planning for and building non-automobile transportation infrastructure. Vehicle miles travelled (VMT) has peaked in the US, and trends among young adults point towards further stagnation or decline on that front.

I’m in favor of a real conservative idea: a NO NEW ROADS pledge. Pay to maintain what we have, and don’t build any new highways or add new lanes to facilitate unnecessary sprawl, when we’ve got underutilized land already served by existing infrastructure.

The reason that won’t ever happen is that Sioux Falls is way too deep into the Suburban Growth Ponzi Scheme. If we stopped sprawling, we’d quickly run out of new cash to pay for the unsustainable environment we’ve already got.

#13 awesomedude on 04.28.15 at 8:34 pm

I live on farm, farm tractors aren’t hard on roads unless its winter and most people who farm store tractors in winter. What does tear up roads is large semi trucks and snow ploughs that break up the ground, not tractors.