The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) voted 15-4 Friday to remove the Regional Road User Charge (RUC) or “mileage tax” from consideration in its 2025 Regional Plan and all future transportation plans. Friday’s vote underscored the RUC's unpopularity. The motion to remove the tax garnered bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats on the board.
SANDAG board member and Oceanside councilmember Ryan Keim introduced the motion for removal. Keim joined San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, and Del Mar Councilmember Terry Gaasterland at a Friday press conference. They blasted the “regressive” tax as an example of government overreach.
“This policy threatened the core principles of American freedom and imposed a disproportionate burden on the majority of our region’s residents,” said Mayor Wells.
“The notion of being tracked and taxed for every mile one drives is fundamentally contrary to the values that define our great nation,” he added.
The four-cents-per-mile RUC was a crucial part of SANDAG’s funding strategy. It was meant to offset declining gas tax revenue resulting from the rise of electric and hybrid vehicles. SANDAG estimated the RUC would raise over $34 billion through 2050.
But the mileage tax proposal was immediately met with hostility and played a key role in the resignation of SANDAG CEO Hasan Ikhrata. Nearly every member of the public who addressed the board Friday spoke in favor of removing the tax from the regional plan.
“Today’s action will once again get us on the record that the board agrees that it is not the time for a regional road user charge in the regional plan,” said San Diego Supervisor and SANDAG Board Chair Nora Vargas.
Read more at the San Diego Union-Tribune.