When is a higher "hybrid tax" not an increase? When you leave out a lot of hybrids from being included! Here’s a story from WISN Channel 12 in Milwaukee talking about the state’s new fees on hybrid and electric cars, which was scheduled to kick in on Monday.
It turns out that most hybrids won't be taxed.What gives? I went over to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s summary of the hybrid tax provision that Wisconsin Republicans voted for, and Channel 12 is right- some hybrids are exempted.
Starting Jan. 1, a new state statute places a $75 surcharge on hybrids with a battery capacity of at least "4 kilowatt hours." Most hybrids on Wisconsin's roads have battery capacity under 2 kilowatt hours. Future hybrids may have greater battery capacity….
While most current hybrids will be exempt, fully electric cars will now pay a $100 surcharge on their yearly registration fee.
Create a $75 fee for hybrid-electric vehicles and a $100 fee for electric vehicles, effective January 1, 2018, which would be paid in addition to the existing annual registration fees for passenger vehicles designed for highway use that are powered by hybrid-electric or electric engines. Specify that the fee would apply to automobiles, vans, sport utility vehicles, and light trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,000 pounds or less, but would not apply to municipal-plated vehicles, farm-use-plated vehicles, motorcycles, or vehicles registered with a gross vehicle weight in excess of 8,000 pounds. Increase estimated transportation fund revenue by $2,621,300 SEG-REV in 2017-18 and by $5,782,500 SEG-REV in 2018-19.For example, a base 2017 Prius is only 1.3 kilowatt hours, so therefore would be exempt from the hybrid fee.
Define a hybrid electric vehicle as a vehicle that is capable of using gasoline, diesel fuel, or alternative fuel to propel the vehicle but that is propelled to a significant extent by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery that has a capacity of not less than 4 kilowatt hours and may be capable of being recharged from an external source of electricity.
Define a non-hybrid electric vehicle as a vehicle that is propelled solely by electrical energy and that is not capable of using gasoline, diesel fuel, or alternative fuel to propel the vehicle.
Define alternative fuel as a gas, liquid, or other fuel that, with or without adjustment or manipulation such as adjustment or manipulation of pressure or temperature, is capable of being used for the generation of power to propel a motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, natural gas, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, hydrogen compressed natural gas, or hythane. Alternative fuel does not include motor fuel, electricity, leaded racing fuel, or an excluded liquid, as defined in 26 CFR 48.4081-1.
Back in the Spring, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau wrote a paper that went over a variety of options to add revenue to the deficit-ridden Transportation Fund, including higher gas taxes and a variety of registration fee changes. That paper assumed a flat fee for hybrid and full-electric vehicles, and it projected the following:
Create a $50 fee, effective January 1, 2018, which would be paid in addition to the existing annual registration fee of $75, for passenger vehicles designed for highway use that are powered by hybrid-electric or electric engines. Specify that the fee would apply to automobiles, vans, sport utility vehicles, and light trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,000 pounds or less, but would not apply to municipal-plated vehicles, farm-use-plated vehicles, motorcycles, or vehicles registered with a gross vehicle weight in excess of 8,000 pounds.The $50 fee was estimated to raise $2.1 million this fiscal year and $5.0 million in the next one. Since the estimated revenue raised from the hybrid-electric fee is only a small amount above this, despite the increase being 50%-100% higher, that indicates to me that the LFB figured many types of hybrids would be exempt.
Which makes me wonder why the GOPs in the Legislature assembled such a shoddy law. Is it by design to keep a lot of people that own smaller hybrids from having to pay it? Or was it a stupid oversight that is costing the state millions that could be used to repair our crumbling roads? And if it wasn’t an oversight, why make it sound like all hybrids would be stuck with the $75 increase, and piss off a lot of Wisconsinites in the process?
For crying out loud, the GOPs spent 6 months huddling to figure out DOT funding, and they came up with a "hybrid tax" that doesn't hit many hybrids, and are still underfunding highways and other needs. Not the least of which is Madison's Beltline, which keeps increasing in traffic while state and federal officials are slowing down work on a study that looks at how to handle that extra traffic.
Now add in this brutal cold snap, and the number that'll do on the roads if we ever thaw out, and get used to a lot more of this in the coming months.