Sandoval seeks highway tax ideas

Gov. Brian Sandoval told NDOT officials Monday that he wants recommendations on how to fix Nevada’s highway tax system by the start of the 2015 Legislature.

Engineer Alauddin Kahn told Sandoval and the rest of the Transportation Board one of the big problems with Nevada’s current 15-cents-a-gallon tax is the improved fuel efficiency of new vehicles.

“That’s a good thing for the environment but not for transportation,” he said.

As a result, he said, Nevada will get about $38 million less in revenue to build and maintain new roads by 2015.

NDOT officials have been charged with studying how to fix the problem and getting a report to the governor and lawmakers.

Sandoval said after the meeting they are “taking a comprehensive approach” rather than looking at just one idea. He said all ideas are on the table.

The Vehicle Miles Traveled study, Kahn said, will give them the information they need to make recommendations.

He agreed with Sandoval that Nevadans have already made clear they don’t want a GPS device tracking them when they drive. But he said it would be possible to just have the mileage the car is driven tracked without recording where people go.

But Sandoval said that presents some other problems. He said if he drives a long distance out of state, he doesn’t want that mileage added to his Nevada mileage and used to run up his payment to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Kahn said other states have taken different approaches. Virginia, he said, converted its per-gallon gas tax to a sales tax, which at least raises more revenue when the price of gas goes up. He said many Nevadans think the state already gets more money because gas prices have risen but, with a flat per-gallon gas tax, that’s not the case.

Sandoval said what’s best for Nevada has to be answered by the study before the next Legislature starts.

“It’s too important to wait until the 2017 Legislature,” he said.


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