By: Kelly Garman, Director of Government Affairs, ACEC California
The gas tax.
As the Director of Government Affairs for ACEC California, it’s something I’ve learned quite a bit about the last three years. Every transportation seminar and conference, every transportation-related bill moving through the legislature, and every time I’ve ever heard Malcolm Dougherty, Will Kempton, Senator Beall or Assembly Member Frazier speak in a public setting, the decline of the gas tax has been front and center.
And understandably so – there are more fuel-efficient cars on the roads these days, contributing to a decline in the gas tax, which is the revenue stream used to fix California’s roads. It’s a big deal. On behalf of ACEC California and as a longtime California resident, I believe this decline translates into a dire need to search for a long-term solution.
The good news? There’s a solution being tested by the California government at this very moment.
Back in 2014, ACEC California strongly supported Senate Bill 1077, a bill that created the California Road Charge Pilot Program to study the feasibility of a new funding stream that will ultimately replace the gas tax.
And, as of July 2016, the California Road Charge Pilot Program is underway! You can read more about the details at www.CaliforniaRoadChargePilot.com, but – in short – 5,000 volunteers throughout the state will test various road charging methods in an effort to assess whether or not this is a viable alternative to charging drivers a tax on their gas to pay for roads.
The best news yet? I’m one of the 5,000 volunteers to be accepted into the pilot program! Here is a screen shot from my welcome email –
I’m unclear how many volunteered but not every one who signed up to participate was accepted into the program. I know there was an effort to get a good mix of rural, and suburban commuters, soccer moms and dads, business men and women, etc.
I quickly enrolled per the instructions in the email and was able to choose from various options of how my mileage would be calculated. The last thing I wanted was another task to remember throughout the week, so I chose a plug-in device for my car.
First, I needed to check if I had an OBD II port (which I “Googled” in order to figure out what it looks like and where the port is located on my vehicle).
I’m excited to be a part of this pilot program, and I care a lot about California so I thought I’d share my experiences as a pilot program participant. I’m excited to see how this will work, and whether a road charge is the long term funding solution we are looking for.