MBUFA Press Release for June 18 Senate Finance Committee Hearing on the Challenges to the Future of Highway Funding

Contact:  Barbara Rohde                                                                    June 18, 2015

(202) 312- 7437                                                                                  For Immediate Release

Statement 

Senate Committee on Finance Hearing on Challenges to the Future of Highway Funding 

The Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance (MBUFA) is a national non-profit organization that brings together government, business, academic, and transportation policy leaders to conduct education and outreach on the potential for mileage-based user fees as an alternative for future funding and improved performance of the U.S. transportation system. 

Jim Whitty is former Vice Chair of MBUFA and the manager of Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Innovative Partnership Programs.  He has led the development and now implementation of Oregon’s mileage-based user charge system and he made the following comment: 

“Oregon was the first state to adopt the gas tax in 1919 and you could say that we were the first state to notice that it was going awry. In 2001, the state legislature established a task force to create a new revenue system for highways.  The recommendation was a per-mile charge as the most viable alternative to the gas tax.  After 14 years of research and pilot programs, Oregon will launch on July 1st, a road user charge system for 5,000 volunteers that will have three types of mileage reporting from three providers so that users have choices for what system to use.  Through our pilot programs we have learned that providing system choice and making clear that government will not be tracking drivers is critical to responding to drivers’ concerns about privacy.” 

Adrian Moore, Ph.D., is vice president for education and an MBUFA board member.  He is also vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.  He served as a commissioner on the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission which was established by Congress. He made the following comment:

“The gas tax used to be a reasonably good way to pay for transportation.  If you look into the future, you can see its weaknesses are growing and the strengths are shrinking.  Nothing is going to change that.  Eventually, it will quit being an effective mechanism and it’s going to have to be replaced.  The question is what is the most efficient and effective method to pay for transportation and infrastructure?  And that would a fee on use of transportation infrastructure. User fees have many inherent advantages over taxes because they are related to the usage of the system.  When usage goes up, revenue tends to go up; when usage goes down, revenue tends to go down.  It sends signals to the system much like prices do in the market.   On the Transportation Financing Commission we spent two years evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of every tax and every fee that we could think of or that anyone could suggest to us.   The mechanism that stood out as being efficient, effective, equitable and sustainable was the mileage-based user fee.”

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