“If we want to solve the transportation problem that people told us they want to solve, this is what gets us there,” said Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield. “This is the minimum that gets us there, that keeps the roads from failing, gets at the bridges, gets at the seismic issues.”
The proposal also opens the door to putting tolls on highways in the Portland area. It would also implement higher registration fees on vehicles with higher-than-average fuel efficiency. Crafters of the proposal say that’s because owners of those vehicles pay less, on average, in fuel taxes than other drivers.
The final package could look different than the one unveiled Monday, as the committee debates the details over the coming weeks and holds public hearings. But Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, told fellow lawmakers that the time is coming soon for them to take a public position on the key elements of the proposal
“There’s no more hanging back. There’s no more hiding in the weeds,” he said. “We’ve reached that point.”
The legislative session is scheduled to wrap up in early July. But the transportation plan will likely be hundreds of pages long when written into bill form. Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, said he would need as much time as possible to come to a decision.
“We’re going to need a little time to go through this, and to make sure that this is right, not only for our district but for the state of Oregon,” he said.