Connecticut should be focusing its efforts on ways to reduce the tax burden on its citizens, not squeeze more money from them, according to state Rep. J.P. Sredzinski (R-112) who represents Monroe in the state House of Representatives.
“We don’t need more revenue, the state’s problem is spending,” said Sredzinski Tuesday. “There’s no way we should be increasing the cost of living and taxing people for the simple act of driving to work.”
State Republicans are bracing for the reintroduction in the state legislature of a mileage tax — assessing every motorist in Connecticut for every mile they drive each year.
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) issued a press release Monday after a story published Saturday in the Washington Post reported the I-95 Corridor Coalition, to which Connecticut belongs, applied for a $2.1 million federal grant last month to launch a pilot program for the tax.
“If you thought the idea of tolls was unpopular, just wait until you try to tax Connecticut residents for every single mile they drive,” Boucher said in the release.
“That tax will hit drivers every day. It will hit you everywhere you go, even if you are driving to a hospital emergency room. The state needs to prioritize how it spends taxpayers’ money and direct that money to the right places, but the current leadership in Hartford has not shown the willingness to do that. I would also note that in the places where the mileage tax has been introduced, it has been highly unpopular and has received a stinging response from the public. Connecticut Republicans will be fighting this mileage tax idea until it stalls permanently, and we invite Connecticut motorists to join us,” added Boucher, who is ranking member of the state’s Transportation Committee.
Sredzinski said he would consider a mileage tax if it were to replace the gasoline tax, which also theoretically taxes motorists for every mile they drive.
“But even then I don’t see the advantage because at least with the gas tax it gets collected by the retailers at the point of sale,” he said. “With a mileage tax there would be just another layer of bureaucracy figuring out how to collect the tax from each of the tens of thousands of cars on the roads.”
A mileage tax was initially proposed in the legislature a year ago, and reappeared in January as part of a proposal to pay for the Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $100 billion transportation plan, the Republicans’ press release said. But Judd Everhart, state DOT commissioner, nothing is on the table now and any such implementation would require legislative approval and would be years down the road.
Nevertheless, three state officials — Tom Maziarz, chief of policy and planning at DOT; Zachary Hyde of DOT, and Bill Seymour, chief of staff at DMV — are on the MBUF (Mileage Based User Fee) Steering Committee. Connecticut has also committed $300,000 to the study.
According to the application, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Vermont are looking at the mileage tax as an alternative to a gas tax and a federal grant would allow them to test the idea.
California’s pilot program is set to get under way in July and Oregon has a volunteer program in place, the Post reported.
One of the hurdles to a mileage tax is how it would be calculated. Counting devices that can be plugged into a port on most cars, cellphone apps, and GPS devices were some of the possibilities mentioned as well as assessing an annual fee.
Oregon’s voluntary program charges 1.5 cents per mile in addition to a 30-cents-per-gallon gas tax. For those who drive an average of 15,000 miles per year, that would amount to $225.