The polarizing transportation funding package is getting heat from both sides of the aisle, according to The Oregonian.
So far, neither side has been able to agree on where funding for this proposal, which does not yet contain specific projects, is going to come from. This, on top of the legislature’s primary task of balancing the state’s budget for the next biennium, is causing tensions to run high all around.
As of right now, the question of funding seems to be leaning toward an increased gas tax, tolls on new highways and borrowing money. Some Oregon Transportation Commission members, also have proposed spending an additional $1.1 billion every two-year budget cycle.
Republicans and Democrats will have to come to some agreement, but it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon. In 2015, Republicans said no to an increase on the gas tax because they already considered the state’s low-carbon fuel standard to be a hidden gas tax, but Gov. Kate Brown said repealing the fuel standard was “off the table.” Until both sides can see eye to eye on the issues, it may be a while before any sort of agreement is reached.
As far as small businesses are concerned, NFIB/OR State Director Anthony K. Smith believes the most important question to get answered is the source of funding.
“While there are differences of opinion about what a transportation funding package should look like, I think it’s safe to say that most small business owners in Oregon would agree that if you are asking for a specific project, you should be proposing a way to pay for it,” he says.
Smith adds that those who are in charge of the proposal “should have some skin in the game, too.”
“If it’s clear that only some Oregonians are going to benefit from the project, it’s hardly fair to ask all Oregonians to pay for it.”
On the journey to find an answer to these questions, the road is going to be a long and hard one, Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), told The Oregonian.
“We have a really, really challenging path in front of us.”
The Joint Committee On Transportation Preservation and Modernization will meet Monday and Wednesday evenings throughout the 2017 legislative session and has created several work groups to address the specific objectives of the overall package.