Minnesota Department of Transportation
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St. Paul, MN 55155-1899
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MnDOT receives mileage-based user fee policy report
Task force recommends further exploration of alternative transportation funding
ST. PAUL, Minn. – A task force charged with considering the implications of implementing a mileage-based user fee today delivered a report recognizing that such a fee could be fair and flexible, but should not be implemented until concerns are satisfactorily addressed.
The report cited several issues for the Minnesota Department of Transportation to address, including privacy, administrative cost, complexity, phasing, and unfamiliarity of the concept among policymakers and the public. The task force was appointed by Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel in April 2011.
“I appreciate the effort put forth by members of this task force to identify and evaluate issues related to MBUF,” said Sorel. “Their input is one step in a process, and these findings, along with information we gather from technology research currently underway, will provide policy makers with information needed to address future transportation funding issues.”
The task force agreed that Minnesota’s future transportation funding sources should ensure all drivers pay their fair share for building and maintaining the transportation system and should be flexible to cover all vehicles, regardless of the type of fuel used.
Additional benefits of an MBUF include sustainability, different rates for different conditions, value-added services and system management. The group identified the following concerns about a potential MBUF system: administrative cost, privacy, jurisdiction issues, feasibility, complexity, public acceptance and use of revenues.
“The task force recommended clear goals for a future funding system that moves this important conversation forward,” said Jim Hovland, mayor of Edina, and vice-chair of the task force. “But we didn’t feel we had enough detailed information yet to make wise decisions about a specific approach, so we recommend that MnDOT evaluate alternative models for achieving the Task Force’s fairness and flexibility goals.”
One of the primary issues the task force explored was the fairness of the gas tax during an era in which less gas will be used.
Currently, a driver in a vehicle getting 20 miles per gallon currently pays about 1.4 cents per mile in state gas taxes. A hybrid vehicle driver getting 40 mpg pays half as much, and a driver of an electric vehicle, or another non-taxed fuel source, pays no state gas taxes.
“We need a fair and flexible transportation funding system and the current gas tax fails on both fronts,” said Bernie Lieder, chair of the task force and former chair of the Minnesota House Transportation Finance and Policy Division. “The task force supports alternatively fueled vehicles, but feels all drivers should pay to support the transportation system they use.”
All of the 25-member task force endorsed the report which included a minority opinion to express viewpoints not shared by the majority of members. All documents and information on MnDOT’s MBUF technology research project are also available at www.mndot.gov/mileagebaseduserfee.
The 2007 Minnesota Legislature appropriated $5 million from the trunk highway fund for the technology research project, which is taking place from September 2011 to December 2012.