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NEW YORK STATE: EV rebate offer a troubling charge

Did Robin Hood get it wrong?

Did the famous swashbuckling character created by Howard Pyle in the 1880s miss the boat when he robbed the rich to give to the poor?

We don’t think so. But when it comes to the way electric vehicle rebates are handled in New York’s Sherwood Forest, the money is taken from all of us and given to those who have a financial advantage.

The rebates for electric vehicles – currently available for new EVs while legislators debate extending the rebate to used EVs – are paid for by utility surcharges. Everyone pays the same surcharge, which means the fee hits lower income households harder than it does those with more disposable income.

Yet, who is more likely to use the program created by those fees? That’s right – those with more disposable income. Most lower-income New Yorkers can’t get a bank loan on either a used or a new electric vehicle even with state and federal rebates .That’s especially true with the state program, which comes in the form of a tax credit that doesn’t reduce the sticker price of the vehicle. So if you’re not in position to spend upwards of $25,000 on a used vehicle, the EV tax credit is useless to you. It’s very useful for those on more solid financial footing – who probably don’t need the tax credit in the first place.

A better program, in our view, would have been a sliding scale that provides a higher rebate for those who would otherwise struggle to get bank financing for an electric vehicle. That would make sense in helping the state achieve its lofty environmental goals. The least energy efficient vehicles tend to be driven by those who patch together their old vehicles year after year because they can’t afford the astronomical prices being charged for newer vehicles. Helping those people buy newer or electric vehicles would do more to boost EV ownership than making sure people who can already afford EVs get a tax break.

We agree with Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown. Howard Pyle got it right almost 150 years ago. New York, with its idea of stealing from the poor to give to the well off, has gotten it wrong with this electric vehicle rebate program.

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