PHOENIX - Oregon Gov. Kate Brown wants the public's advice for dealing with the state's transportation needs.
She has scheduled 11 regional forums from Jan. 4 through March 14 to give the public a chance to weigh in on the Governor's Transportation Vision Panel, a year-long endeavor to develop recommendations for issues across all types of transportation and regions of the state. Members of the vision panel include legislative representatives, business owners, and civic leaders from across Oregon.
Various panel subcommittees have generated some recommendations. The subcommittee for finance generated various recommendations to raise revenues and creating more options for Oregon's municipalities to meet their infrastructure needs.
"In the short term, the legislature should stem the immediate transportation funding crisis by passing legislation that relies on increasing the traditional suite of user taxes and fees, as well as creating new fees where appropriate to ensure equity among users," the subcommittee said in its preliminary findings, which also suggested giving local governments greater ability to raise money for their transportation needs.
The state "should unshackle local governments," which have limited flexibility to raise money due to the lack of a state sales tax and restrictions on property taxes, the subcommittee said
"In the short term, the legislature should seek to raise more money for the road system by increasing the gas tax and existing driver and motor vehicle fees—particularly since Oregon has the lowest driver and motor vehicle fees in the nation," the recommendations continued.
"In the long-term, policymakers should look for opportunities to develop additional or replacement fees direct some of the economic value created by the transportation system into its preservation and improvement," the subcommittee said. "These could shift the current system from its heavy reliance on taxing system users to generating additional revenue from those who benefit from transportation investments. These could include land value capture, value-based freight fees, and income tax gain share. Because transportation user fees are largely regressive, an equity effort should be made to ensure that those who derive significant wealth due to public investments in transportation pay a larger share of costs than they currently do."
Other subcommittees focused on different types of transportation, such as roads and bridges or aviation.
"Each upcoming public meeting will include an overview of the vision panel's process and preliminary findings, and a discussion on how the transportation system can support regional economic needs and priorities," Brown's office said in a statement.
The series will kick off in The Dalles, in the north/central part of the state, and conclude in Portland.