Civitas Poll: Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax Unpopular

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Seventy percent view another transportation tax as unfavorable

Raleigh, N.C. – Last month, a legislative committee, formed to study funding proposals for future transportation projects, announced a series of recommendations for new taxes, fees and toll roads in order to increase transportation funding. One proposal, taxing drivers based on the number of miles, or a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax, appears to be a hard sell to the public, according to the most recent poll released by the Civitas Institute.

Of the 600 voters who were polled, 70 percent said they viewed a system that charges drivers based on the number of miles they drive unfavorably. Only 21 percent responded favorably, while nine percent said they were not sure.

“Legislators are looking at a number of ways to increase, and make more reliable, the tax stream that supports transportation funding. A VMT adopted without engaging the support of the public would be a very bad political mistake,” said Executive Director of the Civitas Institute Francis De Luca. “With seven out of 10 voters skeptical of simply the idea of a VMT, proponents of it have much work to do to convince the public it will be successful.”

The 21st Century Transportation Committee recommended the VMT tax be levied, in addition to the current gas tax. In other states, where a VMT is being discussed, it is seen as a replacement for the gas tax. The committee also discussed raising gas and highway-use taxes, as well as increasing registration fees, implementing toll roads and issuing bonds.

“We know that relying on revenues from the gas tax is an unsustainable model. As people drive more fuel efficient cars and as we seek different sources of fuels to power our cars, gas tax revenues will continue to decline,” De Luca said. “The VMT may be an option to replace the gas tax in the future, but voters are not ready to go there yet.”

Full text of question:

“In order to fund transportation projects in North Carolina, a legislative commission has recommended changing the current system to a plan that would charge all drivers based on the number of miles they drive in North Carolina each year. Would you view such a system favorably or unfavorably?”

Favorably- 21%
Unfavorably- 70%
Not Sure- 9%

The study of 600 registered voters was conducted Jan. 19-22, 2009. All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of registered voters in North Carolina. For purposes of this study, voters we interviewed had to have voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.

The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that:
95 percent of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” True Values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.


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This article was posted in Press Releases by Chris Hayes on February 5, 2009 at 12:08 PM.

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