Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg clarified the details of a forthcoming infrastructure improvement bill, saying that a mileage tax will not be included.
Last week, Buttigieg, a former Democratic presidential candidate, suggested that a mileage tax showed “a lot of promise” to help pay for an infrastructure plan. A vehicle mileage tax would tax people per miles driven and would be seen as an alternative to raising the tax on gasoline.
But when he was questioned about his comments on CNN Monday, the former mayor said, “No, that’s not part of the conversation about this infrastructure bill.”
“I want to make sure that’s really clear,” Buttigieg said, adding that there will be “a lot more details in the coming days about how we envision being able to fund this” that emerge. He did not elaborate.
Last week, Buttigieg said during a TV interview that a “so-called vehicle-miles-traveled tax or mileage tax, whatever you want to call it, could be a way to do it.” He noted that a vehicle milage tax “shows a lot of promise if we believe in that so-called user-pays principle: The idea that part of how we pay for roads is you pay based on how much you drive.”
He added, “You’re hearing a lot of ‘maybe’ here because all of these things need to be balanced and could be part of the mix.”
The reason for the proposal, Buttigieg said, is because a gas tax “can’t be the answer forever because we’re going to be using less and less gas,” referring to the usage of electric and hybrid vehicles.
“If there’s a way to do it that doesn’t increase the burden on the middle class, we can look at it,” Buttigieg said of possibly increasing gas taxes, “but if we do, we’ve got to recognize that’s still not going to be the long-term answer.”
President Joe Biden is slated to detail a sweeping infrastructure bill that could reportedly cost as much as $4 trillion. During a news conference last week, the president said that infrastructure was his next priority.
Following Buttigieg’s mileage tax suggestion, he received significant pushback on social media, with some saying it would disproportionately affect low-income people.
His remarks last week about a mileage tax came after he told Congress to make a “generational investment” to improve the nation’s roads and bridges—while also making comments about climate change and racial discrimination.
“There is near-universal recognition that a broader recovery will require a national commitment to fix and transform America’s infrastructure,” Buttigieg told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.