State Senator Jim Whelan held a press conference Tuesday to explain in detail his 'Green Vehicle Miles Traveled' legislation, aimed at taxing drivers of eco-friendly cars to make up for losses they could cause to the state's Transportation Trust Fund.
Senator Jim Whelan has a bone to pick with some drivers in New Jersey. He said, "You have probably a little less than 2% of drivers who don't pay anything to drive the same roads and bridges. They are literally getting a free ride and I don't think that's fair."
Senator Whelan has drafted a bill that would tax zero-emission drivers about 8 tenths of a penny for every mile they drive. Whelan is concerned because, right now, everyone is taxed 14 cents a gallon at the pump that goes towards the Transportation Trust Fund. He says that all adds up to approximately $750 million dollars a year that these ‘green' drivers are not contributing to.
Whelan said, "If they're riding the same roads and bridges they should be contributing the same as everybody else."
Although the newly drafted bill is subject to change before it gets voted on, Senator Whelan has drawn harsh criticism from opponents in the Senate race.
Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles, who is running for the 22nd District Senate seat, says taxing drivers by the mile wouldn't be fair to drivers who commute out of the state. Balles explained, "Absolutely I oppose it. This basically has been reported as the worst bill that has ever been presented in the state of New Jersey." He continued, "If you leave New Jersey and you drive to California, and then drive back, you will be taxed at the pump in every other state…and then when you get back to New Jersey at the end of the year you will have to pay almost a penny on every mile you've driven that vehicle."
During his press conference on Tuesday, Senator Whelan expressed concern about the growing number of 'green' cars on the roads, and the potential losses to the state's Transportation Trust Fund. Whelan said, "The real concern on the financial side is what happens as this fleet increases."
No bill has officially been introduced to the Senate floor and Senator Whelan is open to discussing changes to the bill. "If there are better ideas out there as to how to do this - let's have that discussion."
Senator Whelan said he expects the committee to further discuss the bill this spring.