Gov. Bill Haslam, R-Pilot Oil, says we have a major problem looming, which is funding our road infrastructure due to declining gas tax revenue. His Transportation Commissioner concurs, saying:
Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said in budget hearings last week that he has met with the heads of the House and Senate transportation committees about the effect of improving fuel economy and the advent of electric vehicles on Tennessee’s gas tax system.
“We’re going to have to figure out before it’s too late how we’re going to systematically fund transportation in the future,” Schroer said at the hearing. “We can’t always rely on the gas tax to be the way that we fund transportation.”
Schroer said part of the discussion with lawmakers centered on what to do about electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf.
Well, you can’t say I didn’t see this one coming. Leaf owners such as myself well know that we will have to pay some kind of tax to make up for the gas taxes we no longer pay, this is not a shocker. Fair enough, we’re using the roads, we’ll pay our fair share. But “a major problem for the state’s infrastructure over the next decade”? Doubtful.
There are so few EVs on the road now and for the foreseeable future that I doubt the loss of our gas tax revenue constitutes “a major problem for the state’s infrastructure.” I mean really, if we’re going to have that many EVs on the road in 10 years then you folks better be more worried about the electric grid than fixing potholes in state roads. Slap an extra $100 tax on the sale of every EV and I think we’re done for now.
Pardon me for being suspicious that the Leaf has been singled out. You know, there are people who run their vehicles on cooking oil; they don’t pay gas tax, either. Why not mention them, too? They’ve been getting a free ride for years. Meanwhile, people who buy gasoline for things like lawnmowers DO pay the tax but don’t use the roads. Right now, from a revenue perspective, I’d say it’s all a wash.
But yes, over time we will need to address the issue, as will the entire nation. This is not an issue unique to Tennessee. I’m just not seeing the urgency here. And pardon me for saying this but the Haslam Administration doesn’t have a good track record when it rushes in to things.
Unless… well, unless Gov. Pilot Oil has something else in mind. I do think such cynicism is warranted, based on the governor’s past actions. After all, Gov. Haslam, you did leave your Pilot Oil holdings out of your “blind” trust by pretending to not understand the entire point of a blind trust.
And you did play all innocent when your freeze on new state regulations meant the family’s chain of truck stops could skirt an environmental rule affecting fuel storage tanks. You batted those baby browns and gave us that aw-shucks grin and said, “who, me? Did I do that? Well, I do declare!”
You know you did, governor. So I really just don’t trust your motives here, nor should anyone. No offense, but you sorta asked for it. It’s obvious that gas-free EVs and higher CAFE standards (which you openly opposed, for obvious reasons) are going to cut into Pilot Oil profits eventually. I’m not denying that. And you are in a position to keep tabs on the family business in a way the public is not, because Pilot Oil is a privately-held company. Meanwhile, as governor, you are in a position to enact policies that directly impact said privately-held company. That’s just the facts. You basically asked us to just trust you, but why should we? I don’t trust any politician.
So Gov. Haslam, I conclude that your conflict of interest just keeps rearing its ugly head. That just really sucks for you. It just won’t go away. That said, this is a problem you created when you chose to keep your Pilot Oil holdings out of your blind trust.
It’s just inconceivable to me that you won’t solve this “major problem” in a way that benefits the people who sell gasoline: mainly, you and your family. And our local news media’s willful amnesia about the source of your family fortune is pretty sucky too, since we’re on the topic.
Anyway, I’m putting the governor on notice: I’m watching. I’m paying attention. I’m doubtful that you will take any action against the interests of Pilot Oil. And I’m very suspicious of this sudden appearance of a “major problem” for our infrastructure.
Don’t think for a second I won’t call you on it. You’ve been warned.