RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina leaders could increase a variety of taxes and fees to help pay for roads under a bipartisan plan moving forward in the state Senate.
As more drivers use electric and more fuel-efficient vehicles, state lawmakers are concerned about the long-term reliability of the gas tax to fund transportation.
“I think COVID and the advent of electric vehicles has really opened everybody’s eyes. And, we cannot put off this decision anymore. We have got to tackle it,” Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Durham) said.
The Senate bill proposes a variety of changes.
In addition to Woodard, Sens. Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell) and Tom McInnis (R-Moore) are primary co-sponsors.
The bill would increase the registration fee for electric vehicles from $140.25 to $180. It also implements a new $90 fee for hybrid vehicles.
People using ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, also would pay a new tax. For single riders, the tax would be 50 cents per ride while it would be 25 cents for shared rides.
In addition, the legislation would lift the cap on the vehicle purchase tax, that is currently set at $2,000. The current tax rate is 3 percent of a vehicle’s purchase price.
It also increases the cap on the number of toll projects that are allowed through public-private partnerships, increasing from three to six.
“We have seen the gas tax as a revenue source has been unreliable for some years now. We saw it during COVID,” Sen. Woodard said. “People didn’t drive as much. So, there have been some of us who have been the canary in the coal mine, saying we need to look at this.”
Sen. Woodard noted that as far as the electric vehicle fees are concerned, it would still be less than what the average driver spends on the gas tax annually, that he said is just under $300.
He added that electric vehicles typically are heavier than their gas-powered counterparts, so they can cause additional wear and tear on the roads.
“Electric vehicle owners need to subsidize roads, lights, those sorts of things,” Louis Humphrey said, of Durham, who recently purchased his first electric vehicle. “Nobody deserves a free ride, I don’t think.”
CBS 17 reached out to Uber and Lyft about the rideshare tax. Lyft did not respond.
In an email, Uber spokesperson Javier Correoso wrote, “Uber applauds the leadership of Senator Sawyer in bringing together a diverse and comprehensive group of transportation stakeholders to address infrastructure needs in North Carolina. We look forward to working with the General Assembly on a plan that keeps rideshare access affordable and reliable for North Carolina residents.”
Furthermore, Georgia has a similar rideshare fee structure as what lawmakers in North Carolina have proposed. South Carolina has a 1 percent tax.
Sen. Woodard said this is the next step in a longer-term effort to establish more reliable transportation funding. The General Assembly already voted to use a portion of the sales tax for transportation. He anticipates at some point lawmakers will try to implement a fee based on miles driven.
“We’ve got to work through some of the issues there before I think our (vehicle miles traveled) proposal is going to be ready. But, it’s coming, absolutely,” he said.