Oregon Transportation Bill Undergoes Surgery To Slim Some Taxes

Jun 14, 2017
Originally published on June 13, 2017 5:18 pm

Oregon's massive transportation bill — which would raise taxes by about $8 billion over the next decade — is getting some nips and tucks.

Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, said Tuesday that officials are preparing a new draft of House Bill 2017 that would lower the initial increase in the gasoline tax from 6 cents a gallon to 4 cents.

In addition, the new draft replaces a proposed 3 percent excise tax on the sales of adult bicycles with a flat $15 tax on these sales. Beyer also said the new bill would stretch out some fee increases on electric vehicles, so as not to discourage their sale.

Beyer didn't have an estimate on the overall cost of the new draft of the bill.

"We've made some changes based on the testimony" at the public hearings on the bill last week, he said, adding that it wouldn't amount to a dramatic difference in the overall size of the measure.

Two new taxes were left intact: a 0.75 percent tax on new and used vehicle sales and a 0.10 percent payroll tax. The latter would be used to pay for transit.

Beyer said lawmakers are still negotiating language dealing with Oregon's clean-fuel standard. That has been a sticking point with Republicans who complain it could drive up fuel costs.

Because it is a tax bill, the measure needs a three-fifths vote in both chambers to pass.

"I think we're aiming for something right down the middle that has more than one Republican in each chamber," said Beyer. "To get that, we'll probably lose one or two Democrats, is my guess. If it passes. It's still far from a conclusion that this thing can pass."

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