Local Governments Want to Tax You Per Mile

$400,000 doesn't buy what it used to


If yesterday's vote is any indication, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has far too much time and money on its hands.

The Council's transportation subgroup decided that a $400,000 study into the possibility of taxing motorists based on the miles they drive is a priority.

To be fair, the Council is only putting up $80,000 of the study's funding.  The rest is coming from the federal government, so taxpayers won't be affected.  Wait, what?

Who among us wouldn't want to pay tolls on all non-tolled roads?  Wouldn't the commute into D.C. or to Tysons Corner be all the more fun if you were being charged for every stinking mile of stalled traffic?

Ron Kirby, director of the Council's transportation planning board, told the Washington Business Journal that taxing commuters by distance is a brilliant idea:

"The study will look at the public acceptability issues of the concept. It's a great idea in theory and the technology for it is available, but getting people to do it is the challenge. Some people resist the idea of tolls on roads that don't currently have them, but it may be time for something drastic."

Do they really need $400,000 to tell them that the public is going to hate the idea of paying tolls?  That's what passes for good government around here?

It might make sense in some wonky academic setting, but Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA told the Post that its net effect would be to increase the gas tax to $2-3 per gallon.

Kirby also tells the Post that the study is going to look at how an increase in taxes would affect people of different income levels.  Hmm... another imponderable.  What are the chances it shows that the less money you have, the more you'll be affected?

Apparently if you want a survey with non-obvious questions and answers, you need to pay more than $400,000.

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