Truck-only VMT tax a ‘discriminatory funding ploy,’ OOIDA says

February 24, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s promotion of a vehicle miles traveled tax exclusively on commercial motor vehicles is shameless and exposes the organization’s arrogance, OOIDA wrote in a letter to Senate leaders.

“The inclusion of such a divisive, inefficient and unabashedly self-serving policy in the next surface transportation reauthorization would instantly eliminate our support for the bill and likely destroy any hope for its passage,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer.

The letter, which was sent on Monday, Feb. 24, to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Committee on Environment & Public Works, refers to the proposal of a truck-only VMT tax as a “discriminatory funding ploy.”

“ARTBA’s promotion of a truck-only VMT insinuates truckers don’t pay their fair share into the Highway Trust Fund, which is preposterous,” OOIDA wrote. “Not only is the trucking industry currently paying more than its fair share, a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office found Highway Trust Fund revenues derived from motor carriers through the heavy-vehicle and tire taxes will increase over the next decade. Between the current diesel tax and these supplemental taxes that other highway users do not pay, the trucking industry is estimated to increase its contributions to the Highway Trust Fund over the same period of time.”

OOIDA supports infrastructure investment

OOIDA said it supports greater investment in transportation infrastructure but believes that all highway users should pay their fair share.

“Unlike ARTBA, we continue to believe responsibility for creating the safest and most efficient surface transportation system must be shared equally among all highway users,” OOIDA wrote. “This includes truckers. But by supporting a new tax targeting commercial motor vehicles, ARTBA now clearly feels some users are more responsible than others. Make no mistake, the Senate’s embrace of this contentious, discriminatory and counterproductive approach in the next highway bill will be the legislation’s ruin.”

Previous letter

In January, OOIDA wrote another letter to lawmakers, saying that any highway funding proposal should not disproportionately burden truckers.

“Professional truck drivers cover tens of billions of miles on American highways each year, so our members can speak from experience about the significant need to update and maintain our roads,” OOIDA wrote. “The economic success and competitiveness of both small-business truckers and the nation depend on a safe, reliable and well-funded national transportation system. Simply put, our members understand the value of an efficient highway network and support efforts to increase Highway Trust Fund revenues so long as they are done in a fair and equitable way.”

OOIDA said federal gasoline and diesel taxes are proven mechanisms that provide a transparent and efficient way to fund the highways.

“Congress should be looking to build on this relatively stable and predictable system,” OOIDA wrote. “Therefore, we support efforts to increase dedicated revenues to the Highway Trust Fund through reasonable and impartial increases to federal gasoline and diesel taxes.”

The Association cited many concerns regarding a VMT tax, including the cost for equipment to establish the system, the administrative costs for highway users and the government to track and collect taxes, and the cost to enforce the program.

A truck-only version of the VMT tax would create opponents for motor carriers of all sizes, OOIDA said.

“Lawmakers must avoid discriminatory funding ploys like ARTBA’s, because they will prevent the formation of this necessary coalition,” OOIDA wrote. “Not only will embracing their foolish truck-only VMT tax squander the vital support of our industry, it will turn us into staunch opponents of the next highway bill.”

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.