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Eliminate Gas Tax -- And Pay Per Mile Instead?

Sacramento, Calif. -- The new head of California's Department of Motor Vehicles has come up with a plan to reduce or eliminate the state's gasoline tax -- but there's a catch.

According to San Francisco's CBS5 News, the idea from DMV chief Joan Borucki would replace that revenue with a tax that would charge drivers per mile driven. To keep people honest, every car would be equipped with a tracking device that would send mileage information to a satellite.

Borucki said more people are driving fuel-efficient cars, so the gasoline tax is generating less revenue for needed transportation projects. But some say the plan might discourage people from buying cars that burn less gas.

"If you reduce the economic incentive for producing new technology like hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell, you may ultimately undercut our ability to address high fuel prices in the future," said Sean Comey of AAA.

Others are concerned about the privacy implications of a tracking device inside automobiles.

"Once you have the technology, the cat's out of the bag. There's no going back to the time when it's harder to get that information," said Anna Lee Newitz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Who has access to that information? There's no discussion right now on controls being placed on that."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed Borucki, said he needed more time to think the idea through.
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