By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming’s Legislature is looking at two ways to raise money for maintenance and repair of the state’s roads, a fuel tax increase of 9 cents per gallon and a proposal to charge vehicles for every mile they drive in the state.
The two bills, both sponsored by legislative committees, have both been pre-filed for consideration by lawmakers when they reconvene on Jan. 27 for an eight-day virtual session.
The “road usage charge” bill, House Bill 37, would impose a per-mile tax on vehicles ranging from 1.3 cents per mile for motorcycles and multipurpose vehicle such as all-terrain vehicles to 14.3 cents per mile for semi-trucks with multiple axels.
The tax for passenger cars would be almost 2.2 cents per mile, while the fee for larger vehicles such as pickups and vans would be almost 2.9 cents per mile.
The fee would be imposed on any vehicle traveling on roads maintained by the state, counties or towns.
The bill, sponsored by the Legislature’s Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee, is designed to offset shortfalls in funding for road repair and maintenance in the state.
According to a fiscal note accompanying the legislation, the fee would bring in about $136.5 million per year for distribution to the state, counties and towns. The cost to administer the program would be about $12.8 million per year, the note said.
Drivers would be required to record the miles they travel on Wyoming roads
If approved, the bill would impose the road usage fee on top of the state’s existing fuel tax of 24 cents per gallon. It would also allow for an increase of road usage charges should fuel tax income decline.
“As revenue from fuel taxes continues to decline based on increased vehicle fuel mileage and conversion to electric vehicle technology, it is intended that the pay by mile system may eventually replace fuel taxes and be the main funding mechanism to ensure a safe and effective surface transportation system in Wyoming,” the bill said.
The fuel tax increase bill, sponsored by the Legislature’s Joint Revenue Interim Committee, would raise fuel taxes from 24 cents per gallon to 33 cents per gallon on gasoline and diesel, an increase of 37.5%.
According to the fiscal note accompanying House Bill 26, the additional tax would raise $60.3 million, including $40.2 million for the state highway fund and $14.2 million for county road funds.
Also receiving some of the money would be city and town street and alley funds, $5.9 million, and the state’s parks, almost $1.2 million.