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Fund repairs to infrastructure

September 21, 2008

Re "Rocky on roads," editorial, Sept. 14

Your editorial suggesting paying for the transportation infrastructure improvements with a vehicle mileage tax instead of increasing the existing fuel tax has not been thought through.

Heavy vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, do much more damage to roads per mile than lighter vehicles. Fuel efficiency is closely related to vehicle weight. Therefore, a tax on the fuel used is more reasonable, in terms of cost of infrastructure, than a tax on actual miles driven.

Your proposed new mileage tax also would be politically more difficult to impose than an increase in the existing fuel tax. Let's face it: Imposing new taxes is a tougher sell than raising old ones. In addition, raising the existing tax would be cheaper to implement and easier to enforce. Installing "tamper-proof devices" to transmit information to a tax office would be both expensive and bureaucratically cumbersome.

Requiring each driver to visit a certified mechanic on a regular basis would be absurdly time-consuming and inefficient compared with simply collecting the same increased fuel tax revenues by means of our existing, highly functional gas taxation system.

Dallas Weaver

Huntington Beach

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Since when did $225 billion a year become expensive for a country the size of ours to invest appropriately in transportation infrastructure?

We have other budgetary priorities that cost that much annually or more (such as our education, healthcare and military obligations), and no one blinks an eye.

Whether accomplished through a gas tax, funding from our general budget or any other method, infrastructure investment is what allows us to create and fund all of our other budgetary priorities -- and both political parties are treating it as an afterthought.

This is a new century, and we need to build for it.

Ken Alpern

Los Angeles

The writer is president of the Transit Coalition.

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