For the past two decades, Utah’s gas tax revenue has been steadily declining, due in large part to more fuel efficient vehicles. At the same time, Utah has seen an increase in the number of miles traveled by vehicles. The Salt Lake Chamber has remained firm that users should bear the primary responsibility for funding Utah’s transportation infrastructure, but innovative approaches must be explored to increase revenue. For the transportation fund to remain robust, Utah must shift to a true user fee, such as a road user charge.
Here are 3 benefits to implementing a true user fee for vehicle miles traveled:
- User fees ensure those who benefit from a good are the ones to foot the bill for maintenance and improvement. In Utah, to fill the gap in the transportation fund by the declining gas tax, Utah has been using earmarked funds from our sales tax revenue. As a result, all Utahns, not just those who use Utah’s roads the most, have been shouldering the cost for maintaining and building the state’s infrastructure.
- User fees are stable and reliable forms of revenue. While we could continue to use the sales tax a supplement to the transportation fund, sales tax revenue can be volatile, fluctuating as spending on goods goes up and down with the economy more so than spending on gas. With user fees, the more roads are used, the more maintenance will be required, and the more revenue the state will receive for this maintenance.
- User fees encourage responsible use of our roads, improving air quality and congestion. As the state focuses on improving air quality, a user fee will encourage Utahns to think before they drive. If a fee for miles driven – also known as a road user charge – is implemented, drivers will have financial incentive for driving less, reducing the amount of emissions and pollutants in Utah’s air. Additionally, the user fee will encourage the use of public and active transportation, and carpooling. This means fewer cars on the road, resulting in less congestion on Utah’s roads.
Fuel efficiency and vehicle miles driven are both expected to continue to increase, meaning now is the time to act in order to have stable, reliable and fair funding for transportation in Utah. To learn more about the Salt Lake Chamber’s transportation legislative priorities, visit our website.