Fees could hurt efficient vehicles

Jasper Johnson

Rep. Ron Erhardt, DFL-Edina, has proposed a bill that would increase the tab fees for the most fuel-efficient vehicles.

The idea of the plan is to make up for the loss in gas tax revenue as vehicles continue to become more efficient with their gasoline usage.

I view such a proposal as completely misguided. I understand the desire for the state to increase taxes or fees due to loss of gasoline revenue, but this proposal disincentivizes owning efficient vehicles.

Highly efficient or electric vehicles benefit society — Minnesota should actively try to promote their use, not discourage it.

A comparison between this new policy and cigarette taxes illustrates my point.

Let’s hypothetically say that a state was losing money from cigarette taxes because people are buying fewer cigarettes.

It would be absurd to make the non-smokers and infrequent smokers pay some additional fees just because their choice to consume less hurts the state’s wallet.

Charging these non-smokers would — in a sense — subsidize harmful behavior. On the contrary, the state should promote the choice to consumeless of a universally detrimental good.

This faulty logic is even more astounding because the choice to consume gasoline is one that harms others through climate changes and other externalities caused by an overreliance on oil.

In the past, Erhardt has proposed gasoline tax increases. These could be effective, and they would encourage us to seek alternative sources of energy.

However, I see Erhardt’s current proposal as entirely counterproductive. It demonstrates a serious lack of foresight.

Moving forward as a society, we need to foster — not disincentivize — alternative and efficient energy use.