State Transportation Commission to recommend changing Washington to a ‘Pay Per Mile’ state

VIDEO: State Transportation Commission recommends gradually switching to pay-per-mile system

OLYMPIA, Wash. — State transportation leaders voted Tuesday to recommend the state’s hotly debated pay-per-mile tax, which could replace the gas tax and charge drivers based on their mileage.

The 16 recommendations approved by the Washington State Transportation Commission will be submitted to the governor, Legislature and Federal Highway Commission in January.

“It really comes down to making sure there’s funding for the highways, and the bridges and the ferry system long-term,” said Reema Griffith, Washington State Transportation Commission executive director.

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Griffith said the commission has been studying the road-usage charge since 2012 and just wrapped up a yearlong pilot program with 2,000 drivers.

She said more fuel efficient cars on the roads means less fuel is being sold, which is having a direct impact on funding Washington roads.

Tuesday, commission members recommended the state gradually transition to a pay-per-mile tax, starting with hybrid and electric vehicles, which currently pay a flat rate.

Right now, Washington drivers pay 49.4 cents per gallon of gas. Under the recommendations, they’d pay 2.4 cents per mile.

“They’re paying a lot today in gas taxes, they just don’t feel it because it’s kind of bundled on that receipt and we don’t see it when we fill up,” said Griffith.

Griffith said drivers would only pay one tax and that the pay-per-mile tax puts everyone on an even playing field.

Surveys the commission used show many people support the idea, but public testimony set a different tone.

“It is disrespectful, disfavored, and just plain wrong,” said Tim Eyman.

“This charge is going to add more and more money that I don’t have,” said a citizen to the commission.

“You want to tax my driving and my family now on a daily basis to and from school, to and from football games, to and from soccer games,” voiced another citizen.

According to Griffith, fully transitioning to a pay-per-mile tax could take the state at least 10 years.

See our previous coverage on a pay-per-mile road usage charge in Washington: