Meddle to the pedal

The state should not force a mileage tax on Minnesotans.

Traditionally, the stateâÄôs gas tax has been a primary source of revenue to fund road projects in Minnesota. However, during the past few years, that revenue has been dwindling for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the decrease in total fuel consumption that coincides with the plunging economy and a rise in the sale of fuel-efficient cars. To fund the road system, the state has decided that the best solution is to tax drivers for each mile they drive, tallying the totals by installing a monitor in vehicles that calculates travel distance and then remotely adds a mileage tax to motoristsâÄô bill when filling up at the pump. There are a number of things to dislike about this tax. For instance, at present the monitors calculate driving distance both in state and out of state. In other words, if you took a spring break road trip to Miami, you would end up paying a tax for 3,500 miles of traveling, even though you only drove about 40 miles in Minnesota. It bears mention that this tax would be a significant intrusion into oneâÄôs privacy as well, and the notion that citizens would be required to install a device that permits the government to monitor their travel is unsettling. Fortunately, the solution is simple. Since it would be unfair to tax Minnesotans who donâÄôt use the stateâÄôs roadways âÄî by increasing the state sales tax, for example âÄî the state should rely on the one-time taxes specific to drivers to cover the shortfall. By itself, the motor vehicle sales tax brought in $539 million during the fiscal year of 2006. Raising that tax by 0.1 percent would generate more than $8 million dollars. In addition, the state could slightly increase the vehicle registration fee. If used wisely, these two taxes could easily build our bridges and fix our potholes without having to place us under a mileage-based surveillance.