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RI Senate approves study of VMT

Route 95

Route 95 in Providence

The state Senate on Tuesday approved the creation of a commission to study the possibility of instituting a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax the Providence Journal reports.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Josh Miller (D-Cranston, Warwick) would institute a charge on each mile driven and would either replace or supplement the gas tax. Currently RIDOT and RIPTA receive most of their funding from the gas tax which does not rise with inflation. When gas prices go up, and people leave their cars and start to use mass transit or alternate means of commuting, the gas tax revenue drops. This decline in revenue comes at a time when more riders seek to use RIPTA, putting RIPTA in the position of having a falling budget just when demand for their services is at it’s greatest. The adoption of fuel effecient vehicles is also resulting in less gas being used by Rhode Islanders and less money being collected for RIDOT to maintain roads and bridges.

The bill provides for a 15-member commission, including the heads of four state agencies concerned with transportation or taxation, six legislators appointed by the House and Senate leadership and five public members representing business, labor, environmental and transportation organizations and the state’s gasoline dealers.

To become law and institute the commission, the measure will also have to pass in the House where it is being sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston). Once formed, the commission will report it’s findings in 12 months.

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