By J. D. Longstreet
Here in North Carolina, something called the 21st Century Transportation Committee is recommending the state adopt a “taxes by the mile” plan. As I understand the proposal, the state would carefully record the miles each Tar Heel Driver drives, over the preceding twelve months, and the vehicle owner would be charged the appropriate amount in taxes for each mile the driven. As North Carolinians take their cars in each year for the mandated annual state inspection (which by itself is a gigantic tax scheme!) the mileage on the odometer is recorded. This will be the source of the mileage figures used to tax NC drivers. Transportation experts say that later the state could switch to GPS tracking of NC Drivers.
You can read the piece by Steve Harrison at the Charlotte Observer’s site by
So. Why the taxes by the mile? Well, you see, it’s like this: Tar Heel drivers, being the frugal people that we are, understood, when gasoline prices went sky high, that if we reduced our driving, we would spend less on gasoline. Makes sense, what? Of course, it does. But, you see, NC has one of the highest state taxes on gasoline in the United States and the state has been losing it’s proverbial behind ever since Tar Heel drivers parked their cars and trucks.
So what to do? Hot dang! Raise taxes! But the state needed a new scheme to do it, because NC drivers learned, while those cars and trucks were parked, that they really didn’t NEED to drive as much. Now that gas prices are substantially lower, we still have the family jalopy parked. My truck is driven a couple of times a week. The family sedan now gets the yeoman’s job the truck used to perform because it gets better gas mileage. And the sedan is not on the road nearly as much as before the rise in gas prices. Hey, just because we speak slowly in NC, doesn’t mean we think slowly.
Enter the proposed “Road Use Tax.”
Now, as if the Road Use Tax isn’t insult enough, the 21st Century Transportation Committee proposes charging NC drivers a quarter cent a mile for every mile driven each year… with the first 2000 miles a year free. How generous, don’t you think?
As I noted above NC has one of the highest motor fuel taxes in the nation at 29.9 cents per gallon. But, the state expects to lose 580 million dollars in tax revenue over three years because Tar Heel drivers are buying less gasoline. As a result the state of North Carolina is desperate for tax money.
Now, we are not blessed with a legislature noted for it’s deep thinking. We are not even noted for a state legislature noted for frugality. Every time we get a surplus, they manage to spend the money. Then they poormouth to the NC taxpayers about how the state is going broke and then they roll out the old threat to cut back on essential services because of the monetary short fall. It happens time and time again. So being short on money in the state treasury of North Carolina is nothing new.
Has it not occurred to the boys and girls in the NC General Assembly that maybe we ought to consider tightening our state belt, cut back on state spending, you know, get choosy about where and when and how they spend the state’s money? If so, I haven’t heard about it.
North Carolina is a great state. I’ve called it home for nigh on to 45 years now. I have seen this sort of thing come and go many times over that near half century I have lived in this state and I’m sure it will continue as long as there is a Tar Heel state. But our state legislature has got to learn that just as their taxpayers parked their vehicles when the price of gasoline became just too darned high, the state is going to have to learn to park some of it’s money soaking programs until state coffers become much more robust.
As democrats control NC, I fully expect the state legislature to not only consider this proposal; I expect them to pass some form of it into law within the next two to three years. I am convinced they’d do it now, if they thought they could get away with it. But with the recession, and all, the gang with the pitchforks and torches would be running toward the state capital building by dawn! Oh, yes, yours truly would be amongst them replete with a pitchfork and a torch!
J. D. Longstreet