State transportation commission to review report on pay-by-mile tax

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Transportation Commission will review a report from a panel who studied a pay-by-mile system that could replace the gas tax.

Leaders think pay-by-mile tax will work in Washington

After reviewing the report Tuesday, the commission will vote on Dec. 17 whether it recommends switching to a pay-by-mile system.  The recommendations will then be passed on to the Legislature to consider during its next session in January.

The switch is being considered because the rise of more fuel-efficient and electric cars has hampered the state's ability to rely on the gas tax for the long term.

A yearlong pilot program for what the state calls a "road usage charge" tested a rate of 2.4 cents per mile.

Related: State kicks off test of pay-by-mile program

The 2,000 volunteers reported their mileage, which allowed them to determine if they paid more or less than under the current 49.5 cent gas tax.

Most drivers found they would pay $50 to $60 a year more in taxes.

Of the nearly 1,500 people who answered survey questions, 33 percent said the state should phase in a pay-per-mile tax to replace the gas tax over five to 10 years and 28 percent said the change should be as soon as the program can be ready.

Sen. Rebecca Saldana, vice chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said if Legislature supports a pay-per-mile system, it would have to be phased in over 10 to 25 years because the state has sold bonds for transportation projects based on revenue from the gas tax and those bonds would have to paid off before the state replaced the gas tax completely with a pay-per-mile system.

Commercial vehicles and trucks would be exempt, Saldana said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More news from KIRO 7