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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.

Oregon Prepares To Roll Out Voluntary Pay-By-The-Mile Tax

Portland Development Commission
File photo. As cars get better gas mileage, Oregon will experiment with a pay-by-the-mile tax.

Oregon is looking for volunteers for a new pay-by-the-mile tax.

The state will enroll up to 5,000 drivers starting July 1 for a first-of-its-kind program. Users would pay a 1.5 cents per mile tax instead of the state gas tax.

Tom Fuller with the Oregon Department of Transportation says it's part of a long-term plan to beef up the state's highway fund.

"Cars are getting better gas mileage. We're having hybrids and electric cars,” he said. “They're not paying much at all in the gas tax that helps make Oregon's roads safe and efficient."

If the program proves successful, lawmakers could expand it.

Drivers would not pay for miles traveled outside of Oregon. Miles would be tracked by a device that attaches to the car’s on-board computer.