Learning From New Jersey’s Gas Tax Disaster


New Jersey has the second-lowest gas tax in the country. Residents of the state enjoy their cheap gas and neighboring New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians routinely jump across the border to take advantage of a cheap fill-up.

The average price per gallon in the state is about $2.10, with some locations showing prices between $1.80 and $1.90.

While that’s great news for commuters and road-trippers, it’s not so great for the state’s government. A low gas tax means less money for the state coffers, which has effectively bankrupted the state’s transportation department.

In fact, road construction projects state-wide were halted last week due to a lack of funds (and a hefty dose of political maneuvering). Drivers may enjoy cheap gas, but they’ve been left to navigate New Jersey’s deteriorating and unfinished roads until a solution is found.

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Should We Tax Gas While It’s Cheap?


Who doesn’t love low gas prices?

There’s a certain glee that one gets while driving through a city or down a highway and seeing those glowing gas station signs displaying prices that start with a one.

As of this writing, the national average price of regular unleaded is $1.77. You can fill up a thirsty Tahoe for around $45, which is a huge relief when compared with the $100 fill-ups that were common just a few short years ago.

When gas prices are this low, sales of SUVs and pickups go through the roof, while electric vehicles tend to languish on dealer lots for much longer.

The president has a plan that he hopes could spark some EV sales and help reduce consumption of cheap, easily available gasoline. The odds of his plan being implemented, though, aren’t good.

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Do You Prefer a Gas Tax or a Miles-Driven Tax?

Should owners of electric vehicles have to pay taxes for roads?

Should owners of electric vehicles have to pay taxes for roads?

Some ideas are destined to never work.

The hoverboard is one. So is the flying car. A peanut-butter-and-sardine sandwich would also make the list of ideas not likely to catch on.

The state of Oregon is about to discover one more: a miles-driven tax in place of a fuel tax.

The slow rise of electric and hybrid vehicles, in addition to improved fuel economy in vehicles powered by fossil fuels, has presented state governments with a new problem: how to fund roads with less money coming in from fuel taxes.

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Choose Your Poison: Gas Tax or Mileage Tax

Golden Gate Bridge traffic

Unless we want the streets of the United States to look like the streets of Michigan, we’ve got to figure out a way to pay for proper infrastructure repair and replacement.

The most logical ways to fund streets are through vehicle registration taxes and gas taxes. The problem, of course, is that both are about as high as they can politically get in most areas while streets and highways continue to crumble. As hard as it is to admit, I believe gas taxes should increase, because it’s the most fair way to evenly distribute how much tax individuals pay. Higher gas prices also will spur drivers to save more fuel and drive less.

But cities in the Bay Area have a different idea.

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Green Update: The Real Cost of Gasoline

Weekly gas prices

With gas, you know what you’re buying, but you have no idea what you’re paying for.

And the fact that people are unaware of where their money goes has all kinds of implications—behavioral, economic and political.

A week ago, the L.A. Times ran a piece telling us that U.S. drivers are going to spend some $491 billion for gasoline this year. That in itself is an astonishing figure, and it’s the highest amount ever.

What astonished me more was this statement: “Fuel prices have been high this year because of expensive oil and increased exports of gasoline and diesel to other countries.” Yes, exports.

In just the last few months the U.S. has become a net exporter of refined fuels, according to Energy Department statistics. That’s a big change from as recently as May, when U.S. imports of refined fuels exceeded exports by 800,000 barrels a day. Most recently, exports have been running ahead of imports by 467,000 barrels a day, with much of the fuel going to Latin America and South America.

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Lutz Again on GM’s Payroll: Bringing Back Value?

Bob Lutz has always claimed the bean counters ruined GM, and he has written a new book, Car Guys vs. the Bean Counters, to back this up. I haven’t read it yet; maybe you have.

Now, the company’s former head of product development has returned as a paid special advisor (salary not revealed) and, as before, he’ll advise on “anything and everything,” said GM spokesman Jay Cooney.

According to Lutz, this new arrangement now has the Feds’ blessing and doesn’t diminish present management, which he thinks is doing a very good job. “It’s just making my broad experience and, arguably, my skills in leadership and general automobile business available to the company.”

“Arguably” is what Lutz is all about, including an outsized ego and an outstanding and contentious career in the auto industry. There is no question, however, that his passion and insight have helped immeasurably in GM’s revival.

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Green Update: Controversial New Fuel Economy Standards

Infographic: New fuel economy standards

Everything the Obama administration does these days is controversial, and yet most of the media (and the auto industry) have hailed the new CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards, signed last Friday.

They raise the targets for cars to 54.5 mpg by 2025 (from the current 35.5 mpg standard), and most environmentalists cheered.

The auto industry majors, with the exception of Volkswagen, have endorsed the new regs and in fact helped create them.

They got two important concessions from the administration: Light trucks and SUVs get a lower standard (3.5 percent improvement per year vs. 5 percent for cars), and the regs will get a “mid-course review to see if targets during the latter part of the nine-year period have to be adjusted in light of manufacturer costs, technology and sales.”

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