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Colorado legislator retreads proposal for tax on miles driven

John Ingold
The Denver Post
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado “-A proposal to tax people based on how many miles they drive as opposed to how much gas they consume is making a comeback at the state Capitol.

State Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, said Wednesday that she plans to introduce a bill later this session re-floating the idea of a pilot project to study a mileage-based tax system. Such a proposal had been included in Senate Bill 108, the big highway-funding bill Gov. Bill Ritter signed this week, but it got stripped out after fierce opposition from Republicans.

“We have to find another way to get revenues for our highways,” Williams said.

The proposal will again likely face stern opposition from Republicans, who say a vehicle miles traveled tax, or VMT, unfairly penalizes rural residents who, by necessity, often drive more. (Democrats counter that rural residents already pay more in gas tax, for similar reasons.)

“That’s not the only approach” to replacing the gas tax, Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, said. “VMT is a bad idea.”

Penry said the state should look at other options for ending the gas tax, including increasing the state sales tax.

Lawmakers in both parties agree the gas tax ” at 22 cents per gallon, one of the major ways Colorado funds road construction and repairs ” has got to go. It hasn’t been raised since 1992, meaning it has lost value relative to inflation, and more fuel-efficient vehicles are cutting into its value.

A number of states grappling with the same problem are looking at eliminating their gas taxes and switching to a VMT tax.

Oregon so far is the only state that has conducted a pilot project.

Williams said, ideally, a number of neighboring states would also participate in a pilot project.


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