I’m not much of a letter writer (these days), but something about our former governor’s hybrid and electric vehicle tax rubbed me the wrong way. He argued that tax revenues were or would be down due to a reduction in gasoline purchases and these lost funds are necessary for ongoing road maintenance and whatnot. While that seems logical on the surface, the remedy struck me as punitive. And, if the state were concerned with equity, they’d tax owners by miles driven against vehicle weight – which probably provides a more direct correlation to road wear and tear. “Hybrid” also strikes me as an artificial, inelegant line in the sand… given my coworker who drives a hybrid Chevy Tahoe that is less fuel-efficient than say a gas-only Toyota Camry. Also, in something of a policy contradiction, early hybrid vehicles were granted HOV lane exemptions… which were indefinitely extended in 2012 by the very same administration.
The annual tax was originally proposed at an even $100 but, due to some sort of miscalculation, was later passed at $64 and went into effect last July. Amidst some noise, from folks such as myself, an effort to repeal the tax started working its way through the Virginia legislature earlier this year, approved at every step, and finally signed by the current governor last week. Obviously, I support the decision… although the refund of fees paid seems like an unnecessary paper drill and expense for the state – I would have preferred they keep my $64.
Regardless of where you stand on this topic, and it is a multifaceted issue, the overarching theme is that new, disruptive technologies are fundamentally impacting just about all aspects of governance. And it’s gonna take a while, along with a variety of experimentation, to get this complexity sorted.