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California Looking To Revamp Gasoline Tax System

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Sacramento, CA — As more electric vehicles enter California roadways over the coming years, it will disrupt the main revenue source for fixing roads, the state’s gasoline tax.

Governor Gavin Newsom has set a directive to end the sale of new gasoline powered vehicles by 2035. In doing so, the amount of money spent on gasoline will decline, and in turn, reduce state road maintenance revenues. An alternative could be a “road user charge” program that taxes people based on the number of miles they travel. Some early studies have estimated that a tax of around 1.8 cents per mile would make up for the combined state gas tax revenue collected at the pump.

Today the federal government announced that it is awarding Caltrans a $2.15-million grant to research different alternatives to the gas tax for funding road and highway maintenance. The study area for the specific grant will be “rural and tribal areas.” A related study was launched about five years ago in the more urban areas.

“As the state looks toward a zero-emission future, California needs to study alternatives to the gas tax to fund our transportation infrastructure,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “It is critical that we fully understand how a road charge program may uniquely impact rural communities and work together to find solutions.”

The study will focus on using GPS technology to track the number of miles traveled for individual vehicles and differentiate whether the travel is done on private or public roads. The info will be used in developing a preferred alternative to the gasoline tax system.