Supporters of VMT or per mile taxes point out that electric car and even hybrid car owners are paying nothing or very little to help maintain state roads.
Take a look at the Washington electric vehicle tax and compare it to the state's current gas tax of 37 cents per gallon. If somebody drives an internal combustion car that gets 30 MPG and they average 12,500 miles driven each year, they'll pay about $154 a year in state gas tax. By comparison, electric car owners will be paying less at just $100 per year.
On the flip side, critics of VMT or per mile taxes say it's hypocritical of state governments to promote electrical vehicle ownership and then turn around and tax those who are the "early adopters".
Tolls, License Fees and the Federal Gas Tax
For years states and some municipalities have been taxing those who drive on certain roads or who cross select bridges with tolls. Many of these tolls were implemented to pay for building or expanding a new highway, with the promise of removing the toll once the road or highway was built. In reality, most toll roads have remained toll roads. Why? States need the funds.
"We are not spending enough to keep up with the maintenance and repairs of roads and bridges," Schank said. "People don't understand paving roads, adding roads, etc. costs money. That money has to come from somewhere."
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The federal government collects 18.4 cents for every gallon of gas pumped in this country. The federal gas tax has gradually increased from 1 cent a gallon back in 1932 to its current rate of 18.4 cents.
While you may not want to pay any more in federal gas tax, the idea has been advocated in recent years by a growing number of policy makers. In fact, in 2010, the Simpson Bowles deficit-reduction commission called for raising the federal gas tax as a way to help cut the deficit.
Now, Erskine Bowles isn't so sure that idea would fly in Washington.
"I think it (raising the federal gas tax) is generally not well received," Bowles said. "There are lots of reasons not to do it and there are lots of other ways to generate revenues, but what we have to do is make sure that we generate enough revenues to pay for the transportation spending that we are currently undertaking," says
Big Brother Tracking Where You Drive?
As more states look to VMT or per-mile driven taxes, they will wrestle with the tricky issue of calculating how many miles people drive. They could avoid the problem by imposing a flat annual tax on all vehicles when they are registered each year. Critics say that would be unfair to those who drive only 5,000 or 8,000 miles a year while others who are racking up 15,000 or 17,000 miles are paying the same tax.
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There is also the idea of monitoring how many miles are driven using transponders on all cars and trucks. This idea pits benefit of having a more accurate read on the mileage of each vehicle against concerns the state will be able to monitor where you have driven your car. Who would have access to that information? Is that too much of 'big brother' tracking our lives?
There are still more questions than answers when it comes to the VMT, but make no mistake: The idea is gaining steam and coming to a state near you.
—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews
Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com
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