The proposed tax would be $150 a year on hybrids and $250 on electrics.
by Don Carrigan
NewscenterMaine news story
AUGUSTA (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Legislators may be hearing some tough talk from their energy-conscious constituents. The LePage administration is proposing a special tax on hybrid and electric vehicles, to raise more money for repairing roads and bridges.
There are about 19,000 hybrid vehicles and around 450 electric cars registered in Maine, according to the Secretary of State.
The LePage administration says those cars aren’t paying their fair share of the cost of maintaining the roads. The issue is the gas tax — one of the prime sources of money for maintaining roads and bridges.
Hybrids and electric vehicles consume little if no gasoline, so don’t pay a lot of tax.
The Maine DOT says gas tax revenues have been flat, and are looking to help make up a $60-million-a-year shortfall in the amount of money required to meet the need.
The proposed tax would be $150 a year on hybrids and $250 on electrics. Hybrid owners like Todd Martin of Waterville say they shouldn’t be penalized.
“I think it’s unfair and punitive to punish people who decide to purchase hybrid and electric vehicles to fill a gap in the gas tax and state roads and bridges,” Martin said on Thursday.
But Maine DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt said the tax is a way of making all drivers pay about the same for roads — even though it would generate less than $3 million per year.
“The idea is they’re coming, there’s going to be more,” he said. “We’re building out charging stations so the ability of them to travel the state will be much better in the future. And they’re also talking about tractor-trailer trucks. Electric tractor trailers.”
Bernhardt said Maine “needs to be ready” to cope with coming reductions in gas tax revenues as electric vehicles become more common.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine says the state needs to just raise the gas tax for all vehicles, instead of targeting hybrids and electrics.
Commissioner Bernhardt said he wants the federal gas tax increased so more money would go to the states.
The hybrid tax bill is expected to have a public hearing next week.