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Democrats, Republicans Split On Hybrid, Electric Fee

Members of the state legislature’s Transportation Committee have split along party lines over a proposal to charge an annual fee on new electric cars and hybrid powered vehicles.

Governor Paul LePage says a fee of $250 on electric vehicles, and $150 on hybrids, will assure that the owners of those cars and trucks pay something towards the maintenance of roads and bridges. Much of Maine’s highway infrastructure is currently funded by a tax on gasoline.

Democrats on the panel say they want a more comprehensive approach, citing a concern that the $2.5 million the Governor’s plan would raise falls woefully short of the $60 million per year needed for road and bridge maintenance.

“The big problem I have with the bill is that it is one item,” says Sen. David Miramant, a democrat from Camden. “It doesn’t raise enough to get anywhere need the $60 million. So, we need a comprehensive plan.”

Republicans argue that the $2.5 million that would come from the plan is better than nothing.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t take and tackle this now. And do it now. Because of the fact that by saying this isn’t going to talk care of the problem, well I think it is going to take care of some of the problem and a little bit is better than none,” says Rep. Michael Perkins, a republican representing Oakland.

The proposal now goes to the full legislature.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.