Subsidizing electric cars in Oregon: a shockingly bad idea

Batteries don’t charge up electric cars; government subsidies do. At least that’s what supporters of a bill now before the Oregon House seem to believe.

The bill, H.B. 2092, would establish an Incentive Fund to make rebates of up to $3000 to purchasers of alternative fuel vehicles, including those that are powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel and gasoline-electric vehicles. Rebates from the fund could total as much as $30 million per biennium and would be on top of the already absurd federal subsidy of up to $7500.

Just what we need, a $30 million government subsidy to purchasers of pricey cars, when Oregon is already one of the top states for EV market share and the state has many other more pressing concerns to address.

The House Energy and Environment Committee held a public heating on the bill on April 2 and has a work session on the bill scheduled for today, April 16.

Under the bill, state rebates would help affluent Oregonians buy vehicles such as the $43,000 BMW i3 and $135,000 i8, the $42,000 Mercedes B-Class, the $106,000 Tesla Model S P85D, and the $35,000 Chevy Volt.

The purchaser of a $135,000 BMW i8 would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate from the state under H.R. 2092

The purchaser of a $135,000 BMW i8 would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate from the state under H.R. 2092

To put things in perspective, $30 million is more than the TOTAL state income tax liability of all personal filers in 16 Oregon counties in 2013: Baker County ($13.1 million), Crook ($18.2 million), Curry ($19.6 million), Gilliam ($12.1 million), Grant ($5.9 million), Harney ($5.1 million), Jefferson ($15.5 million), Lake ($6.2 million), Malheur ($17.6 million), Morrow ($11.1 million), Sherman ($2.6 million), Tillamook ($23.6 million), Union ($24.7 million), Wallowa ($6.1 million), Wasco ($23.6 million) and Wheeler ($1.3 million).

If I lived in one of those counties I wouldn’t look kindly on all my personal state income tax payments going to this alternative fuel vehicle boondoggle.

Let’s be honest here, folks. There are a lot of other places $30 million could be invested more wisely in Oregon.

Seven Oregon counties have been losing population, Coos, Baker, Wallowa, Malheur, Grant, Wheeler, and Sherman.

If the Legislature can find another $30 million to spend, why not use the $30 million to help these struggling counties attract businesses?

Deserving young people around the state are dealing with the stresses and strains of trying to find the money to pay for post-secondary education.

Why not put the $30 million in Oregon Opportunity Grants, the state’s need based financial aid program.

The state invests in Employment Related Day Care in support of the Early Learning initiative, providing greater access to quality childcare for Oregon’s working families.

How about adding $30 million to the budget for that?

A potential decline in lottery revenues during the 2015-17 biennium is likely to present budget issues for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon State Police Division of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is facing a significant budget shortfall.

The legislature could help out the Natural Resource Program area by adding $30 million to its budget.

The logical decision? Short-circuit this bill.

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One thought on “Subsidizing electric cars in Oregon: a shockingly bad idea

  1. I see what you did there… including the costs of high-end electric cars (and throwing in the $30K Chevy Volt at the end) to make your point and not mentioning the Ford Focus ($27K), Smart Electric Car ($25K), Toyota Prius ($25K), and Chevy Spark ($26K). Be careful, some of us know how to spin too.

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