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Electric Vehicle Owners in Texas May Soon Get Slapped With Fees

In an effort to raise funds for a dwindling road construction pot, state officials are considering a $100 fee for all electric vehicles in Texas, a measure that would be one of the first of its kind in the United States. The logic, according to the Texas Tribune, is that since electric vehicles don’t use gas, the funds garnered from any fuel tax go uncollected from electric vehicle owners. And they’re still using the roads.

“I think we need to make sure that electric vehicles that tear up our roads pay their fair share,” said state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo.

Okay, that makes sense. You know what would also help? Raising the fuel tax even one penny. Texans currently pay 38.4 cents in state and federal taxes per gallon, good for 38th in the country. (Alaska has the lowest combined taxes, at 26.4 cents.) Those taxes haven’t been touched in 20 years, leaving inflation and increased fuel economy in their wake. A 1-cent increase – federally – would draw tens of billions in revenue. It’s not apples-to-apples, but if this $100 fee was passed on to the roughly 2,000 electric vehicle owners in Texas, it would raise $200,000 a year. That would make for .0011 percent of the state’s $16.94 billion 2010 transportation budget.

“EV drivers really want to pay their fair share but it seems ridiculous from a policy standpoint,” Jay Friedland, legislative director for Plug In America, a California-based electric car advocacy group, told the Associated Press regarding a similar law in Washington. On the one hand the state has given out sales tax exemptions to encourage residents to buy more electric vehicles, he said, while charging the fee on the other hand. He suggested a per-mile fee, if any at all.

It also seems unfair to single out electric vehicle users who, as the Tribune points out, pay taxes on their electric use. Any sort of vote on the measure has not yet been scheduled.