By editorial board • 

Campaign season could exhaust work on state transportation bill

Transportation promises to be a key issue in statewide elections this year.

A committee of lawmakers plans to begin in May crafting a transportation package for the 2017 legislative session, which promises to drive the debate. Hopefully, the group will invest some time in considering a long-term vision of Oregon’s infrastructure needs, not just address immediate demands.

Our local state senator, Brian Boquist of Dallas, was named one of the vice chairs. His House counterpart on the panel, which consists of eight Democrats and six republicans, will be a fellow Republican Cliff Bentz of Eastern Oregon. Sharing chair duties will be Sen. Lee Beyer of Springfield and Rep. Caddy McKeown of Coos Bay, both of the majority Democrats.

Gov. Kate Brown has labeled a transportation bill as priority No. 1, after a package failed last year when Republicans demanded the repeal of the low carbon fuel standard first and Democrats refused.

McKeown, a former Coos Bay port commissioner, was one of four Democrats voting against the carbon bill, which implements a hidden gas tax expected to cost somewhere between 19 cents and $1 a gallon in coming years. It’ll be interesting to see if the committee tackles that elephant in the room immediately, or limits its focus on the structure of the bill itself and leaves the politics of it for the session. 

What is certain is that both issues will be debated heavily leading up to November. Whichever candidate wins the GOP nomination will no doubt hold Brown’s feet to the fire for her role in passage of the carbon tax.

Of note in the primary is a vote by Portland citizens on a city gas tax to fund metro roadway needs.

Fifteen Oregon cities currently assess a gas tax. Most charge 3 cents a gallon, but Eugene charges 5 and Portland is proposing to charge double that.

The state gas tax currently stands at 30 cents a gallon. If Portlanders tack on 10 cents, the idea of being triple-taxed on fuel, or quadruple if you add the federal bit, may be too much for some. It could sway opinion on the carbon tax.

We hope Boquist and his colleagues will cast a broad net in considering the future of Oregon transportation.

The Legislature has done well in beginning the process far in advance. Now we’ll see if pre-session work will revolve around what’s best for Oregonians, not what’s expedient for their political careers, throughout a heated election season.

Comments

Don Dix

Weren't the voters told that M 66 & M 67 would cure Oregon's budget woes? Fees, fines, and licensing registrations all raised exponentially to meet the same question! Oops!

The carbon tax is merely another do nothing extraction of money from the citizens (for lawmakers to spend as desired). The state has always maintained that the gas tax was for infrastructure. @ 30 cents per gallon, one would think Oregon should have no problem keeping roads and bridges in good shape (recently raised from 24 cents/gal). But that money is spent before any actual work begins. Just notice how much was wasted on the failed 'CRC study', or how much was spent before work on the Newberg-Dundee Bypass actually began.

If anyone believes a carbon tax will lower the thermometer, a comprehensive study of Earth's history should be required before being allowed to vote. It has been stated here (an earlier post by a NR writer) 'that Earth's CO2 has been around 300 ppm for thousands of years and it was just fine'. So, with a temperature fluctuation of 4 to 6 degrees (real fact from observation and recording)) for that period, just how does CO2 make such a difference? Obviously, if doesn't, but some just 'believe without fact'!

If Oregon passes a carbon tax, the temps won't lower. And conversely, if the tax fails, the temps won't rise. But a few will profit because the Ds in Salem will fund foolish projects (examples -- OWIN, BETC, Cover Oregon), ect.) and protect the 'money train' that keeps them in office (and spending at whim).

Your tax dollars enriching a few with no discernible effect! The Oregon way!

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