By Carolyn Kramer, manager, Transportation Investment Advocacy Center
A measure to increase transportation funding in Oregon fell apart last week when support from the bill’s two major sponsors—Governor Kate Brown (D) and Senate President Peter Courtney (D)—was withdrawn. The proposal called for a 4 cents-per-gallon state gas tax increase, with an additional component to repeal a clean fuels law passed largely by Democratic legislators earlier this year.
As a compromise between both parties, an alternative plan to reduce carbon emissions was proposed with the gas tax increase legislation. However, the deal fell through after a June 24 revelation by Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) director Matt Garrett that easing traffic congestion would not produce the estimated decrease in emissions.
A 20-year forecast budget released last year by ODOT revealed an additional $405 million per year is needed to maintain its current infrastructure and prevent deterioration. Without additional investment, the agency forecast that freight markets and businesses would suffer, 100,000 jobs would be lost, billions of dollars more in funding would be needed to fix distressed bridges and degraded pavement, and drivers would pay an average of $380 more per year to repair vehicles.