Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute sent a letter to Congress, joined by 17 others, urging members to preserve and strengthen the users-pay/users-benefit highway funding principle and to establish a nationwide, interoperable mileage-based user fee pilot program.
Based on the recommendations of the 2009 final report of the congressionally chartered National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission—and joined by two former members of the commission—we highlight the advantages of dedicated, user-based revenue for highway projects and support the preservation of this approach into an era where the existing fuel tax regime breaks down due to increasing fuel economy and electrification of the vehicle fleet. A mileage-based user fee is one of the most promising ways to do this.
In recent years, numerous states have established their own road usage charge pilots, with Oregon leading the way. Interoperability between the states is a key challenge and would be a key focus of any future national pilot. To be sure, numerous other challenges remain, from privacy to payment processing. But we believe the only way to address the issues is by fully examining them, something we hope the pilot program can enable.
In the House, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) have signaled their support for a pilot, building off a legislative discussion draft circulated by former Chairman Bill Shuster in July 2018. With the next surface transportation reauthorization due by the end of fiscal year 2020, we hope a bipartisan consensus emerges in Congress that testing user-based alternatives to the ailing fuel tax regime should be a top priority.
Read the full letter here.