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 Response Page - Hausladen  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
John Hausladen Interview of


John Hausladen, President of the Minnesota Trucking Association, argues in favor of existing taxing mechanisms to support necessary road and bridge construction and maintenance. He raises his point amidst growing public concern that the current systems for funding roads and bridges are dated and insufficient to meet future needs in an age of improving gas mileage. Any taxing system to pay for roads and bridges needs to be as effective, efficient, and fair as possible, Hausladen argues. He contends that the current system succeeds on these counts better than any alternative proposed to date.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary:  Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Hausladen. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Retain gasoline tax. (8.0 average response) The gasoline tax should be retained and not be replaced by a tax based in miles traveled.

2. Gas decline overstated. (6.3 average response) The likelihood of a decline in use of gasoline and other motor fuels is grossly overstated.

3. Increase gas tax as needed. (7.8 average response) As the need for additional funds to build and maintain roads is demonstrated, the gasoline tax can be increased.

4. Increase fees on hybrids. (7.2 average response) Annual vehicle registration fees paid by hybrid and fully electric vehicles can be increased as necessary to replace lost revenue from the motor fuel tax.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. (5.3 average response) With taxes they pay, trucks already are assuming their fair share of construction and operating expenses for roads and bridges.

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. (7.8 average response) The greater expense for roads and bridges necessary to accommodate heavier vehicles ought to be paid by such vehicles.


Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Retain gasoline tax







2. Gas decline overstated.







3. Increase gas tax as needed.







4. Increase fees on hybrids.







5. Truck taxes are sufficient.







6. Assess heavy vehicles more.







Individual Responses:

Pat Sawatzke  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (7.5)  (10)

4. Increase fees on hybrids. The increased sales tax paid by more expensive hybrids and electric vehicles will offset the lost gas tax to a great extent.  After paying higher sales tax on the vehicle (due to higher costs) which is dedicated to roads and then a higher annual registration fee you may find that more efficient vehicles are paying more in taxes that less efficient ones.  This is counter productive as it does not reward energy conservation.

R. C. Angevine  (5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)

1. Retain gasoline tax. While I would agree that the current gas tax is easier to collect I'm not so sure that it is the best method.  On the other hand I think that a simple collection system based upon usage might be hard to come up with and administer.

2. Gas decline overstated. Between improved fuel economy and increased fuel prices I do believe that we will see a decline in use per capita.  How that will stack up overall is unclear.

3. Increase gas tax as needed. Simple answer to a simple question.  Doesn't address whether this is the best approach or fair to all users.

4. Increase fees on hybrids. Again, a simple answer to a simple question.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. Don't have a clue if this is correct.

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. Generally agree but on the other hand we all reap the benefits of efficient transportation and delivery systems.

Bruce A. Lundeen  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)

Ray Ayotte  (2.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (5)  (7.5)

Bert LeMunyon  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)

4. Increase fees on hybrids. Any increase in costs for hybrids and electrics may result in decreased sales of these vehicles, which would not sit well with environmentalists.  Although sales of such vehicles are already disappointing from the environs view.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. The only way to determine whether trucks are paying their way is to estimate the costs of bridges and roads (as) if they were designed for passenger vehicles only, and compare with present costs.

Jim Kielkopf  (10)  (2.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)

Ray Schmitz  (7.5)  (2.5)  (10)  (0)  (0)  (10)

1. Retain gasoline tax. We need to encourage more efficient transportation; millage taxes operate to discourage that.

2. Gas decline overstated. One assumes this to be a reflection of more driving and more drivers.  Generally motorists seem to be price conscious.

3. Increase gas tax as needed. Except legislators will not do so.

4. Increase fees on hybrids. We need to encourage them, not discourage (them).

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. The evidence is that they disproportionately impact the roads.

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. I have thought for some time that there should be a heavy haul lane specifically for large trucks.

Joe Greenstein  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)

1. Retain gasoline tax. This system works. Why change it for an unproven system?

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. Trucks are already paying their fair share in taxes.

Pat Salzer  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (0)

3. Increase gas tax as needed. Can't have good roads without dedicating dollars.  If everyone gave some we would have enough for our spend(ing).

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. All roads regardless of the user should be spread out among all users.  The heavy vehicles transport goods and service we all depend upon, and they help pay for roads many of us don't use or would never think of using.

Scott Halstead  (10)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (0)  (10)

4. Increase fees on hybrids. Forget about a mileage-based fee for vehicles.  Collect a nationwide registration fee, which collects higher fees for fuel efficient and heavy vehicles.  I agree that vehicles should not pay for rail transit and bike paths and bikes should pay an annual registration fee for use of public roads.  Beautification beyond some standard should be a state or local responsibility. Government vehicles pay all taxes and registration fees.

John Sievert  (7.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (0)  (10)

1. Retain gasoline tax. At least for the present.  Should this become insufficient due to electric cars etc., then maybe (we ought) to revisit it.  However, there ought to be some mechanism for larger vehicles such as trucks (that) pound our roads to pieces to be charged more.

2. Gas decline overstated. Depends entirely on the economy.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient.  Wrong. All one has to do is drive down a road that is beat up and you can see the ditches in the pavement from the pounding from the dual wheels on semis to know that they are not paying their fair share of the cost of using the roads.  They pay slightly more in gas tax but create a lot more of the damage to the roads.

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. Yes.

Peter Hennessey  (10)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (0)  (2.5)  (5)

1. Retain gasoline tax. The mileage tax has nothing to do with raising revenue. That is only the excuse. The real goal is the hugely increased invasion of privacy by monitoring all your movements, as a result of the technology used to determine the amount of tax: GPS tracking of your every move -- date and time, starting point and destination, and your route between the two. Nobody has any business to keep tabs on you to that level of detail, for whatever excuse they concoct as the reason.  The existing taxes on gasoline and diesel are automatically a mileage tax. The heavier the vehicle, the farther it travels, the less fuel efficient its engine, the more fuel it consumes and therefore automatically pays both a weight and a mileage "penalty." What could be more fair and more precise than that?

2. Gas decline overstated. Fuel use will only increase, because of population. Any reduction in per vehicle use will be offset by increases in the number of vehicles.  Fully electric cars will not be a problem as long as the vehicle's driving range is so ridiculously short -- my one-way commute distance was longer than an electric car's range on one full charge. Hybrids still use gasoline, especially on the highway, so where is the problem? If electric cars ever become practical, then you can add the tax onto the user's electric bill. Wait. We already have all sorts of taxes on our electric bill. So then it's just a matter of sharing the loot with the Department of Transportation. Problem solved.  But electric cars will not catch on, even with the lucky few commuters who can make a round trip without recharging for the trip home, until the nation's electric power generation capacity is vastly increased. The energy to move the cars must come from somewhere, either from the fuel in the tank or from the power plant which supplies the electricity -- ironically, by burning fossil fuel, because (1) we are too freaked by the very word "nuclear" and (2) solar and wind are much too inadequate, expensive and unreliable as a source of power for any but the most casual use.

3. Increase gas tax as needed. Long before you entertain such pipe dreams, the state monopoly on road maintenance had better figure out how to build roads better so they will need less maintenance and last longer (hint: the Germans figured that one out back in the 1930's), but in America this has been impossible because road crews, their unions, and the politicians who rely on donations in exchange for contracts and other favors, they all need the assurance of constant road maintenance work.  You must resist any and all arguments and excuses to increase tax rates. They tend to become permanent, the "new norm." Example: time and again, water rates are raised in years of drought and forced reduction in usage, to make up for the loss of revenue per gallon used. Do they ever go down when the drought is over? No. They always need the money for something, like "repairs," and "upgrades," and "compliance with new standards." The next drought, they raise the rates again.  This time, the speaker seems to propose that the fuel tax rates be raised to offset the claimed reduction in revenue, to keep the revenue the same as if there had been no improvements in mileage for whatever technological reason. Sorry, but by this line of reasoning we should also apply a higher sales tax rate in the Big Box stores, as if the item had been bought in a "normal" retail store, to make up for the difference from the tax on full retail price. Extend this reasoning and put a tariff on all goods made in China, to raise their prices to the same level as if they had been made in America. This is about as stupid as the USPS raising the cost of postage and reducing service, to make up for people writing e-mails and filling in on-line forms instead of mailing a letter. Why stop there? Let's pay reparations to all the coachbuilders, buggy whip makers and horse poop sweepers who were put out of business by the automobile.

4. Increase fees on hybrids. To the extent that alternative fuel usage is desirable for economic and environmental reasons, this is a very stupid idea. Alternative fuels have many built-in technological and economic disadvantages with respect to fossil fuels; therefore the last thing you'd want is to make the vehicles even more expensive. If you really wanted to facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels, that is.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. Any assertion of this sort needs serious proof before it can be accepted. The amount of taxes paid is no such proof. You'd have to compare the costs on at least two identical roads; one on which only passenger cars are allowed, and one where trucks are allowed. Then you may or may not have a case about who is paying their fair share. My guess is, trucks do not pay nearly enough, and cars pay way too much.  The problem is (that) wear and tear and damage to the road is not directly proportional to vehicle weight. Damage occurs when the vehicle is close to the limit of the road's capacity to bear it, much like you can stretch a rubber band an infinite number of times if you barely stretch it at all, but it will lengthen and eventually break after a few times you stretch it right up to its breaking point. So an 80,000 (pound) truck puts more wear on a road, especially one built to be just barely adequate as ours are, than 40 or even 4000 subcompacts weighing no more than a ton each.

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. Any road where mixed use is allowed sees much more wear and tear, simply because of the trucks. Why do residential streets stay in shape forever, while roads wear out practically the same year they are built? If you are to be really serious about keeping costs down, then you'd have to (1) build roads to last longer and suffer less wear, (2) limit trucks to local deliveries only,  (3) shift all long distance freight back to the railroads which are much more efficient by far, and (4) when building and repairing roads and bridges, enforce higher construction standards. Finally, consider charging a toll for highway and bridge use.   If trucks were ever to pay their fair share, then the cost of goods transported by truck would be prohibitive to the average consumer. Consequently we'd see either the economy drop to a recession/depression level, or a push for shifting freight back to the railroads to keep transportation costs reasonable (just compare the cost per ton-mile, rail vs. highway). Of course, once again the problem is political, as the trucker companies and unions wield too much power to make reforms possible, and we have a definite Pavlovian phobia and bias against railroads.

Anonymous   (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (0)

Chris Brazelton  (5)  (5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)

1. Retain gasoline tax. His proposals for higher registration fees fails to take into consideration the amount of use, wear and tear on the road.  Some people drive far more than others.

2. Gas decline overstated. This is in part due to the purchase of alternative and fuel-efficient technologies by the oil industry, keeping them off the market.  The oil industry is acting in its own best interests, not in the interests of the general public.  The degree to which government can regulate on behalf of the public interest will, in part, determine the likelihood.

3. Increase gas tax as needed. The politics of raising taxes is oblivious to the need.

4. Increase fees on hybrids. This could happen, but as mentioned previously, it is limited in fairness, as it does not take into account usage.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Retain gasoline tax. To shift to a miles traveled system would take an immense policing system and be totally unfair to rural folks by letting city users off the hook even though their highway costs are higher than rural folks.

2. Gas decline overstated. I suspect this is an accurate statement when total costs are added such as power plant costs for electrics.

3. Increase gas tax as needed. Very much as would be true of a fair flat income tax.

4. Increase fees on hybrids. Even though the tendency now is to give them a free ride.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. The reality is that the consumers are already paying those fees when they purchase the products.

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. As pointed out (they) already (are), and (that assessment) too is passed along to the consumer of the products. All taxes on truckers are eventually paid by the consumer much as any corporate tax.

Don Anderson  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (10)

4. Increase fees on hybrids. These vehicles currently are of a small enough size that they are not creating the wear on highways that trucks and (fully gas-powered) vehicles create.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. Trucks because of their weight and size require a different highway and, especially, a bridge design different (from that required by) cars.

Dave Broden  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (10)  (0)

1. Retain gasoline tax. The need is to both maintain and to grow revenue for transportation particularly capital and repair maintenance costs. The modes of transportation are evolving and plans should be established that provide for evolution of the revenue source based on the type of transportation and the purpose of transportation. A phased transition of revenue sources linked to the type and purpose is more sound than a jump to replace--gas driven vehicle(s) will not be change(d) to other modes in one moment; it will be over a few decades, and some vehicles may never be non fuel burning, so we need to tax the energy equivalent not just move to change for change purposes.

2. Gas decline overstated. A decline is realistic but will be gradual and evolutionary and will move from gasoline and diesel to methane, natural gas, propane etc. A tax structure that accounts for energy equivalence is most realistic.  The change will be evolutionary and dependent on the type of vehicle --cars will be different (from) truck(s), buses will be and are different. We are evolving through a fuel technology evolution with many trials and starts and restarts a key part of the system transition.

3. Increase gas tax as needed. A better way to express the question would be (that) the gas tax can be increased and other revenue sources added or adapted to reflect the mix of vehicles and types of fuels used as well as the transportation purpose.

4. Increase fees on hybrids. Registration fee increases for innovative vehicles would be counter productive. As these vehicles are purchased and used new sources of revenue that reflect the use and technology should apply; mileage may be one approach, (a) tax on the electric kilowatts used by the vehicle could be another. Taxing the type of vehicle when there is reason to provide incentives for new types of vehicles and energy for vehicles is not a positive incentive.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. Like all taxes, the (taxes paid by) truckers (are like) a fee for the use of the roads and bridges. The trucks are central to the conduct of commerce across all of Minnesota and in the metro areas. Truck taxes must not result in less truck service and operation or cause displacement of other costs or related increases. Periodic review, updates (and) increases are beneficial.

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. Lets think about what the truckers do -- farm to market deliveries--supplies for factories to cities, towns and factories--all necessary for effective life and commerce. Good engineering indicates that the road and bridge designs are more driven by Minnesota climate than by the size and load of the vehicle. A distribution of the capital cost to all users is the most appropriate.

Robert Jacobs  (10)  (10)  (0)  (10)  (10)  (5)

1. Retain gasoline tax. Drop the ethanol subsidies.

2. Gas decline overstated. A healthy private sector economy creates wealth and revenue.  Less government means less wear and tear on the roads and more revenue available for roads.  Tax dollars are now and will be more needed for government workers pensions. This is a source for more revenue being available for roads and bridges. Public unions will have to be dealt with sooner or latter. Better now than latter.

6. Assess heavy vehicles more. Are all revenues derived from tires, gasoline, fuels, vehicle taxes and all things related to transportation being used only for roads and bridges or are they thrown into the general fund for other things such as public union pensions?

Margaret Donahoe  (9)  (7)  (9)  (7)  (3)  (9)

Joseph Mansky  (5)  (0)  (10)  (10)  (0)  (10)

1. Retain gasoline tax. Perhaps the better alternative for partial or complete replacement of the sales tax (which is what the gasoline tax is) would be a fuel efficiency tax, which is determined when the vehicle is manufactured and levied with the annual renewal of tabs. Another way to collect revenue to replace the gasoline tax would be to levy a parking tax. Both would be simple to levy and collect, noninvasive and virtually impossible to evade.
2. Gas decline overstated. I suspect the speaker is badly misinformed here. The real driver (no pun intended) in any decline in gasoline use will be the price of oil, not the level of taxation, which is largely irrelevant. Yesterday, the price of gas at the nearest gas station to me varied by 14 cents compared to the previous day. That’s half the value of our state gas tax. $4.00 a gallon appears to be the price point at which American drivers start looking for alternatives – we saw this behavior in 2008 when the price of gas topped out at $4.11 per gallon. As prices rise above that level, gas purchases will go down, as will tax collection. But the amount of infrastructure remains the same. There’s a basic math problem here.

Chuck Lutz  (10)  (7)  (3)  (8)  (7)  (10)

Wayne Jennings  (8)  (8)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (9)

Arvonne Fraser  (6)  (4)  (8)  (4)  (3)  (9)

We need to get people out of cars, off roads, into more hybrid and electric vehicles and understand that for short hauls trucks are still necessary.  Longer hauls should be done by railroads whenever possible.

Conrad deFiebre  (10)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (0)  (10)

3. Increase gas tax as needed. Better to say, “As the need … the gasoline tax should be increased.” Whether it can be increased is doubtful in this political climate.

4. Increase fees on hybrids. Tab fees on those vehicles should be increased. Whether they can be increased is a tougher question.

5. Truck taxes are sufficient. Hausladen’s annual tax figures look persuasive – until you consider that most of it is diesel tax reflecting heavy daily use of big trucks wreaking disproportionate damage to roadways.

Robert J. Brown  (5)  (4)  (8)  (5)  (8)  (7)

Bert Press  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (1)  (10)

Bob Deboer  (5)  (5)  (5)  (0)  (0)  (10)

Thanks for the ongoing good work.
In this case, though, the truckers are simply building up their case to lobby against change because the current deal is a good one for them. Most of Hausladen’s minority report rejecting mileage based user fees was based on analysis of past attempts at mileage-based approaches before current technology existed.
It is certainly not a silver bullet, but a mileage based user fee is one of the alternatives that needs to be explored further. 

Multiple studies on the federal and state level show that the heaviest trucks do not pay for their impact on roads and bridges, and there is a continual push to increase truck sizes and weights. User fees should not promote economic distortion as the gas tax currently does.  With this inequity in place, alternatively fueled vehicles cannot and should not make up the difference. The Civic Caucus should take care not to promote those with a consistent record of promoting their own self-interest despite the facts. As a member of the mileage-based user fee task force, I can attest that the discussion is not about scrapping the current system, but is about further exploration of whether a mileage-based fee can supplement the gas tax initially and perhaps replace it over time (decades) with no assumption that it could or should (unless perhaps there is no gasoline left). Doesn’t mean that there aren’t some potential problems with mileage-based. More work is needed to implement on any level.

Bob and Jackie Olson  (9)  (9)  (10)  (7)  (7)  (10)

Jim Olson  (10)  (8)  (10)  (9)  (5)  (10)

Kevin Edberg  (6)  (6)  (5)  (7)  (6)  (6)

Current tax mechanisms can work, but not in an atmosphere of "no new taxes" or "strangle the beast in the bathtub". It ought not take a political act of God to increase the gas tax to cover real costs of roads and bridges and related safety issues. Hausladen has a legitimate argument about funding rail, trails, etc. from gas tax revenues.

Rodney Bounds  (7)  (5)  (6)  (9)  (5)  (7)

Roger A Wacek  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Larry Schluter  (7)  (6)  (9)  (9)  (7)  (10)

I think we need to look at the amount of miles that trucks drive to see if their fees are adequate.  The average truck drives a lot more than the average car plus their weight is so much more.  I really question they are paying their fair share for the amount of damage they do to the roads.   Also, question 3 said if we need more revenue we can raise the gas tax.  With our legislature this is becoming more difficult to do even when facts are presented.  The more gas efficient a car gets it seems like they need to pay a higher registration fee.

Tom Swain  (5)  (3)  (9)  (2)  (5)  (10)

George Pillsbury  (10)  (5)  (5)  (na)  (5)  (5)

Al Quie  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)

Index the gas tax.

Paul and Ruth Hauge  (5)  (5)  (6)  (6)  (3)  (7)

Stephen Bosacker  (10)  (8)  (5)  (4)  (5)  (6)

Any taxation should be balanced between current and future needs, so as to (hopefully) not catch governments by surprise, and balanced between auto and truck impacts on the system. Obviously diesel fuel is the fuel for trucks and taxes for this fuel would be higher than for gasoline due to the greater impact of trucks on roads. An appropriate balance should be made between these two fuels for taxation purposes. Drivers of autos using diesel fuel will pay higher portion of tax than drivers of gasoline fueled autos. One the other side, past poor policies resulted in low quality road systems being built, and which now need to be replaced.

Jerry Fruin  (5)  (7)  (10)  (10)  (2)  (10)

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (6)  (6)  (8)  (7)  (6)  (4)



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
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