INDIANAPOLIS | A Northwest Indiana lawmaker is ready to look at replacing the state gasoline tax with a per-mile charge to offset declines in gas tax revenue due to fuel-efficient vehicles.
State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, announced Wednesday he will sponsor legislation in January exempting volunteer motorists from the 18 cents per gallon state gas tax, but requiring they pay a fee for every mile they drive.
A similar program was enacted earlier this year in Oregon. Participating motorists pay 1.5 cents per mile instead of that state's 30 cents per gallon gas tax.
If that per-mile rate were applied to Indiana, a driver who travels 12,000 miles a year and whose vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon would pay $180 in mileage charges, instead of $108 in gas tax.
Matthew Dorfman, a consultant for Oregon, told Hoosier lawmakers the popularity of hybrid and electric cars has made the gas tax an imperfect proxy for road use. It would be better to treat roads like electric or water utilities and charge motorists based on actual miles driven, he said.
Dorfman explained systems for tracking driver mileage can range from a simple sticker authorizing unlimited mileage for a single prepaid fee, to in-vehicle electronic devices that use GPS to distinguish in-state and out-of-state miles and charge accordingly.
Soliday's pilot program would require the Indiana Department of Transportation use volunteer motorists to test different technologies and methods for assessing a per-mile charge and report back to the General Assembly in two years.
"We need to keep moving forward on how we fund our roads," Soliday said. "I'm not leaning in any direction, but to ignore what's going on in the rest of the country would be foolish."
Other lawmakers suggested the state just charge hybrid and electric vehicle owners a $100 annual fee to make up for lost taxes due to their reduced gasoline consumption.