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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Electric Vehicle Backers Push For Tax Incentives

Oregon lawmakers are considering a possible hike in the gas tax this session. Supporters say it's needed in order to offset stagnant revenues due to more fuel efficient vehicles.

At the same time, backers of electric cars say more incentives are needed to get more of those vehicles on the road.

"Right now, there's a whole bunch of reasons we want people to be driving electric cars and we want to increase sales of electric cars, ” said Jeff Allen. He’s the executive director of Drive Oregon, an electric vehicle advocacy group.

Allen and the electric vehicle industry brought their case for a $3,000 taxpayer funded rebate to the state capitol.

In Oregon, gas tax money funds highway construction and repair. And drivers of electric vehicles pay no gas taxes. Starting in July, Oregon will collect a voluntary "pay-by-the-mile" vehicle tax meant to capture revenue from drivers who would otherwise pay little to no fuel taxes.

Washington and California already provide tax breaks for buying electric vehicles. The tax break in Washington is offset in part by an annual $100 registration fee for electric vehicles. Idaho lawmakers are considering a $140 fee on such cars.