Trump signals open to mileage tax with praise of Oregon program
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The White House on Wednesday praised an experimental program in Oregon that charges a mileage tax to volunteer drivers, adding to signals that President Donald Trump is open to finding new revenue sources to pay for his proposed infrastructure program.

In the annual Economic Report of the President, the White House described Oregon as a "pioneer" in transportation funding and highlighted its funding initiative, which began in 2015.

Volunteers are charged a fee of 1.7 cents for each mile driven on state roads. In return, drivers get rebates for state fuel taxes. As of the end of 2016, only about 700 people were participating in the program, which is intended to gather data and generate consumer feedback.

"The program offers tangible evidence that a tax on vehicle miles traveled is a promising alternative to relying on fuel taxes," the report said.

 Trump last week called for using $200 billion in new federal spending over 10 years in an effort to stimulate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending, largely through states shouldering most of the costs and relying on unspecified spending cuts to pay for repairs.

The report also boosted the idea of driverless cars, saying widespread use of them could lift economic growth and create jobs.

The idea of a transportation tax, however, could prove controversial with Trump's fellow Republicans. Many of the party's lawmakers dislike the idea.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Paul Simao)