Say No to the Mileage Tax

To the Editor:

Many months ago Governor Malloy created his own Transportation Finance Panel in an effort to examine funding options and develop recommendations that would fund the governor's 30-year, $100 billion transportation infrastructure plan.

The panel is tasked with developing revenue and finance options and presenting their proposals to the General Assembly after the panel has completed its work.

As an elected official, I do find it questionable that this panel is doing the very work we in the legislature are charged with.

Last week, the governor's Transportation Finance Panel at the State Capitol raised the prospect of implementing a "mileage tax" on Connecticut residents in order to pay for his large transportation package.

The mileage tax would track how many miles you drive using Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring, and tax you the driver at a percentage of how many miles you drive. According to the proposal this tax would apply only to Connecticut residents - not to out-of-state drivers who use our roads daily and drive through our state.

The concept is to levy a tax according to the number of miles you drive. I am in strong opposition to this idea. I know many of you are as well.

The argument some use for the mileage tax is that Connecticut needs to replace the revenue lost as the gas tax produces less and less money every year because cars are getting better and better mileage. But isn’t that what the government wanted? They wanted people to buy fuel efficient cars not gas guzzlers and now owners of hybrids and fuel flex vehicles could be penalized for their decisions. In previous years, Connecticut even gave a tax break for buying a fuel efficient car. So what gives?

I am also very, very leery of any concept which tracks the private movements of Connecticut residents. Using GPS devices to track our driving habits is a slippery slope in tracking where we go and who we visit. Don’t we as law-abiding citizens have an expectation of privacy or not?

I am also concerned how this will affect the Connecticut business community. Will it hurt commerce, will it force them to reconsider expanding their business in state, hiring additional employees or even whether it is worth staying in Connecticut.

Isn’t this tax really just another hit on struggling middle class families trying to make ends meet, those that can least likely afford this tax will be punished the most.

Maintaining our roads, bridges, highways and rails is one of state government’s core functions but we need to prioritize. Let’s fix what needs to be fixed, like Metro-North and I-95 and not invest in new expensive projects like a busway or new rail to Springfield we cannot afford.

Top Democratic lawmakers have so far refused to say what proposals they support to pay for Governor Malloy’s $100 billion transportation plans. There is scuttlebutt around the State Capitol that the General Assembly could have a legislative special session before the end of the year on these transportation finance panel funding proposals.

We need to make sure the mileage tax is defeated before the idea gets any momentum at the Capitol.

Pam Staneski

State representative