State Sen. Jim Whelan said he will amend a proposed bill so that it targets only electric car owners, who he said are getting "a free ride" on the state's roadways by not paying a gas tax.

"They are riding the same roads and bridges," Whelan, D-Atlantic, said during a press conference, "they should have the same amount to pay as everyone else."

Whelan earlier proposed scrapping the state's gas tax, which adds 10.5 cents to a gallon of gas and diesel for passenger cars, 13.5 cents to a gallon of diesel for trucks and buses, and 5.25 cents to a gallon of liquid petroleum and compressed natural gas.

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The money goes to the Transportation Trust Fund and helps pay for roads and bridges, but the fund has taken in less money as state motorists have driven more efficient cars and fewer miles.

In its place, Whelan had proposed a 0.83906 cents per mile levy for all state residents. State drivers, who averaged about 12,200 miles in 2010, would pay about $102 a year when they re-register their vehicles.

The amended proposal would apply the per-mile fee only to drivers of electric cars and other vehicles that don’t use gas. The gas tax would be maintained for others.

Republicans attacked the initial proposal. Atlantic County Sheriff Frank X. Balles, running for state Senate against Whelan, said previously the bill addressed the issue of a possible shortfall for Transportation Trust Fund that doesn't exist. He could not immediately be reached Tuesday night.

The Transportation Trust Fund took in $524.2 million in 2011, however that was $11.1 million less than the previous year and nearly $40 million less than it did in 2007.

Contact Derek Harper:

609-272-7046

DHarper@pressofac.com

Follow Derek Harper on Twitter @dnharper

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