JACKSONVILLE, Fla — State estimates project revenues for Florida’s Transportation Trust Fund could dwindle by as much as 20 percent over the next 20 years.
The reason: The increasing popularity of electric cars that avoid the state’s gas tax.
Florida ranks second in the nation for the most EVs.
While Florida drivers pay an average of $283 a year in fuel taxes that fund things like road maintenance, electric vehicle owners are able to avoid the cost.
Florida lawmakers are learning that solving the issue is more complex than it may seem on the surface.
“It’s estimated that by 2030 that we’re going to have a $64 million deficit if we don’t solve this problem,” said State Representative Tiffany Esposito (R-Fort Myers).
In an effort to tackle the issue, Esposito first filed a bill that would have created new annual registration fees for EV’s and Hybrids ranging from $50 to $200.
33 states have already moved in that direction, and Duval driver Karen Thornton said she thinks it’s a fair solution.
“I think if you can afford an electric vehicle and you’re disposed to feel like that’s an important thing that you need to do for the environment, yeah, you’d be willing to pay it,” said Thornton.
But in the bill’s first committee, Esposito changed course with an amendment that threw out the fees.
Now the bill would commission a study to investigate how to best deal with electric cars, and in the meantime, direct the sales tax already paid at charging stations to the transportation trust fund.
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“This study will find something that is a solution that is specific to Florida,” said Esposito.
But some lawmakers noted the new plan will likely still leave millions on the table.
“85 percent of charging is at home. With that strike all amendment, we are not capturing that 85 percent,” said State Representative Lauren Melo (R-Naples).
Anne Blair, VP of the Electrification Coalition, argued whatever solution is ultimately agreed on will need to avoid disincentivizing electric vehicle ownership.
“Because otherwise then it becomes punitive to getting in, you know, what is a cleaner car. A car that is reducing our dependence on oil,” said Blair.
The bill had to be temporarily postponed by rule during the hearing Thursday.
It’s not on the schedule for another hearing yet, but the committee chair promised it would be back soon.