Wyoming panel backs road user charge
October 6, 2020
Work is underway at the Wyoming statehouse to move the state closer to implementing a road user charge.
The Legislature’s Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee met recently to discuss topics that include a pay-by-mile system, or road user charge. The option is drawing attention from lawmakers in the wake of failed efforts earlier this year to raise fuel taxes and to implement tolls.
The panel is preparing for the start of the 2021 regular session with a focus on other funding options worth pursuing to help the state eat into a transportation funding deficit estimated at $135 million annually.
Advocates, including the Wyoming Department of Transportation, say a road use charge program is the future of transportation funding. They cite anticipated growth in people purchasing alternative fuel vehicles, which will cut further into revenue collected via the state’s fuel tax.
Committee action on road user charge
Committee members voted 10-2 to move forward with the road user charge option for all vehicles as a long-term mechanism to replace the state’s 24-cent-per-gallon tax collection on fuel purchases.
Specifically, the committee backed a bill draft that would begin to phase out fuel tax collection in favor of a road user charge in March 2022.
As written in the bill draft, motorists would pay 2.15 cents per mile traveled on Wyoming roadways. Depending on the size of the truck, professional drivers would pay from 10.32 to 14.35 cents per mile.
Over time, the draft states the fuel tax would be indexed to maintain alignment with road use charges.
Residents paying the road user charge would get a credit for fuel taxes paid. Out-of-state drivers would pay both the road user charge and the state’s fuel tax.
The draft will now become a bill for legislators to consider during the session that begins in January.
Fuel taxes & tolls
Attempts earlier this year at the statehouse to raise road revenue failed to gain traction. Among the options pursued include a fuel tax increase and charging tolls.
The Senate voted against the introduction of a bill to tap tolls to cover costs for improvements to Interstate 80 in the state.
A separate bill sought to raise the gas and diesel rates by 3 cents to 27 cents per gallon.
The change is estimated to raise $20 million annually for state and local roads. LL
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