TAMPA, Fla. - In Tampa’s new downtown, at Water Street, three new parking garages will have 144 electric charging stations. But more people driving electric cars on Florida's roadways could mean fewer people at the pump to pay gas taxes that are used for road construction.
"You need to make sure everybody is paying their fair share whether you’re driving a $90,000 Tesla or a $20,000 gas-powered car," said State Representative Andrew Learned, a Democrat from Brandon.
Learned and Republican State Representative Jackie Toledo of Tampa announced separate bills Tuesday addressing electric vehicles at the new Water Street parking garage on Cumberland Avenue.
Toledo’s bill would provide matching grants to local governments that install charging stations, but she says without more sources of revenue for highway construction, drivers will suffer no matter how their cars are powered.
"We will be in trouble," warned Toledo. "We’ll be just like any other big city that can’t move people from point A to point B."
If Learned’s bill passes, Florida would become the 27th state to impose a yearly tax on electric vehicles. It would start at $135 for an electric passenger car, going up to $150 in 2025.
A study cited by Florida’s Department of Transportation says the average Florida driver pays around $300 a year in gas taxes.
Major road improvements like the new Howard Frankland Bridge are ongoing, even though gas tax revenue is down because of the pandemic. Some projects, like the Westshore interchange, have been pushed back because of the gas tax shortfall.
One study estimates 35% of cars on the road will be electric by 2040. Backers of the new fee say electric vehicles should be part of the equation.
"They are still using the roads and they want bigger bridges and things, too," added Learned. "And the way we’re going to be able to build those in the future is to make sure electric vehicles are also paying their fair share."