ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Billions of dollars worth of roadwork is needed across New Mexico and there’s not enough gas tax money coming in to help pay for it.
Now, the state is looking at the idea of charging drivers by the mile as a new revenue source.
“It’s going to be an estimate of about $2 billion to get all our roads in conditions that are considered good or excellent,” Rep. Patricio Ruiloba said.
State lawmakers say it’s unlikely a gas tax hike will be passed in the upcoming session to help get it done.
“I think we got a message from our constituents and we need to find other alternatives,” Ruiloba said.
He’s now looking to find ways to build up the road fund or even replace the gas tax in the long run.
“Because we have these hybrid vehicles, they’re using less gas so it’s actually impacting the fund,” he explained.
A legislative transportation subcommittee meeting this week reviewed prior legislation asking the New Mexico Department of Transportation to look into what other states are doing to bring in that extra road revenue through what’s called a road mileage-based user fee system.
“They would measure the mileage that would calculate the usage based on mileage of the vehicle,” Jerry Valdez with the NMDOT said.
The DOT said states like Oregon and Utah are trying out a limited program, using odometer readings and mileage-based reporting systems like an installed plug-in.
That means people driving electric cars or hybrids, or cars that just get great gas mileage would be paying their fair share toward road projects.
But, some Albuquerque drivers argue that even if it works elsewhere, it would be too hard of a hit to their wallet.
“We’re always looking at other states but other states have many more people, they have much more money,” one driver said.
People in Oregon taking part in the program are paying about a penny and a half per mile to drive their hybrids and electric cars.
Drivers who still have to fuel up their hybrids get a credit for the gas tax they pay.
The Oregon-based group pushing the idea of road usage fees says by 20 to 30 states could lose up to half their gas tax revenue to fuel efficiency and electric vehicles.