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Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]

Taxing and Tracking Us For Nothing?
Like this liberal tax scheme's gonna to work

[Ray Haynes] 11/23/04

They are doing it again. The bureaucrats just can't help themselves. We have been doing what they have been asking for years. We have been buying fuel efficient cars, jamming ourselves into smaller driving spaces, cramming our children into smaller back seats, placing our families at greater risk by getting into lighter and less safe cars, and saving lots of gasoline. As a result, the taxes the government collects on gasoline are going down, and the bureaucrats are mad. So--now they want to tax the number of miles we drive by putting a tracking system in our car, and following us around.

For years, gasoline taxes were assessed to build roads. They were billed as a user's tax. You use the roads when you drive your car. When you drive your car, you use gas. By taxing gas, the government is actually directly connecting a service (the provision of roads) to the use of that service (driving on the roads). Actually, not a bad idea.

But during the 1970's, when the Democrats controlled the Legislature and the Governor's office, they came up with a hare-brained concept. "We like mass transit," they said, "but nobody uses it. So--we will pay for mass transit with gas taxes, and quit building freeways. That way, freeways will get so crowded that people will find them uncomfortable, they will stop driving, and use mass transit." In addition, these same geniuses decided to use gas tax dollars to study whether or not we should build freeways. Today, we have thousands of bureaucrats sitting around thinking about building freeways, and expounding the virtues of mass transit. We are not building many freeways.

In 1990, voters doubled the gas tax from nine to eighteen cents under the promise that this money would go to building freeways. All that happened is that we now have more bureaucrats studying whether or not to build freeways. Lots of thinking--no building.

Today, the government makes as much money off of the sale of each gallon of gas as the oil companies. You pay for the gas, then pay another eighteen cents a gallon to the federal government in taxes, and eighteen cents a gallon to the state in tax. In addition, we all pay an additional sales tax for each gallon (averaging another eighteen cents today). The sales tax is calculated on the price of the gas, which includes the gallonage taxes paid to the state and federal government—paying a tax on the tax!

In 2002, the voters passed Proposition 42 which required the sales tax on gas to be spent on "transportation," but after four years, the state has never followed the mandates of Proposition 42. The state still spends that money on free health care for illegal aliens. We still sit on crowded freeways.

Now, the bureaucrats are thinking about charging us a tax on each mile we drive, and they are thinking about sticking a GPS tracker in our cars to find out how many miles we drive and on which roads we drive them. Let's forget about the problem with the government knowing everywhere we drive (a big privacy problem), think about how stupid this idea is.

First, we will now have a reduced incentive to save gas. Personally, I would rather drive a big, safe gas guzzler, but the 54 cents in taxes I pay on that guzzler makes me think twice about miles per gallon when I buy a new car. If I am going to be taxed on miles driven, I say let's pollute again.

Second, it is a tax increase. These bureaucrats are worried about losing money because we are saving gas. We drive uncomfortable, unsafe cars to save gas and, quite frankly, to save money on gas and taxes, and the government rewards us by creating a new tax! And what will the new overhead be? How much will it cost to install and maintain each unit and hire the people to compute the taxes on the 30 million registered vehicles on the road today? More than the gas tax, I’d bet.

Third, people will again develop ways to avoid the tax. People already avoid the car tax by registering their cars out of state. How many more people will start doing that to avoid the GPS tax collector? And what do we do about tourists? In the current system, everybody who drives a gas-powered vehicle on our roads pays the tax to maintain them. Under the new system, everyone who drives to California from somewhere else will be driving tax free!

Finally, we are getting taxed for roads the bureaucrats and social engineers don't want to build anyways. Three years ago, Governor Gray Davis announced that the era of freeway construction was over. Really, it was over 20 years ago, and we are paying the price for their foolishness. I can think of two freeways or major highways that need to be built in my district alone—and I’m certain other areas of the state are in the same position.

I don't want to be tracked, and I don't want to be taxed for the tracking. I'll drive if I want, I'll pay the tax on gas if I'm forced to, I just wish they would make my life a little easier by building the roads they promised. Do you really think government will actually keep the promise it makes when it takes our money this time? If so, I’ve got a brand new Hybrid Hummer I’d love to sell you...CRO


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