Oregon legislature passes $5.3 billion transportation package - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon legislature passes $5.3 billion transportation package

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SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

It’s being called the largest transportation package in Oregon history and was just passed by the state legislature.

Proponents claim House Bill 2017 will raise $5.3 billion for infrastructure and repairs over the next 10 years, through various taxes and fees.

There are several components to the bill which will be gradually phased in over the next several years.

One of those is a statewide payroll tax of a tenth of a percent of wages. For someone earning minimum wage, that amounts to roughly $20 per year.

That alone is expected to raise nearly $500 million over the next six years to expand public transit and improve connectivity in rural areas.

There is also a 10-cent gas tax which will be phased in beginning with a 4-cent per gallon tax starting in January. Drivers will be paying more for car title and registration fees, too.

The higher prices at the pump and at the DMV will go toward highway improvements and projects designed to relieve congestion, including the widening of the northbound lanes of Interstate 205 between Powell Boulevard and Interstate 84. There will also be improvements on Interstate 5 near the Rose Quarter and along Highway 217.

Another new fee is a $15 tax on bicycle sales of $200 or more and for bikes with wheels that are 26 inches in diameter or larger. That tax will fund improvements for bicycle and pedestrian projects, as well as the “Safe Routes to School” educational program.

Chris DiStefano of River City Bicycles is one of the people who went to Salem to testify on the bike tax portion of the package before a legislative committee. He told FOX 12 there are several good pieces to the transportation package and any improvements for cycling infrastructure is a win.

However, DiStefano said he has concerns when it comes to the $15 tax, adding that while he would like to see no tax on bike sales. if a tax is going to be in place it should be on all bikes sold in the state. He believes the $200 threshold will cut out sales from big box retailers like Target and Walmart, where the majority of bicycles in the state are sold.

“This tax still feels punitive in the fact that it unfairly puts the burden of this tax on small business,” DiStefano said. “Why would we cut off that revenue source, and potentially 75 percent of the revenue source would be bikes sold through those stores, why would we cut that out?”

As it stands, the tax is only expected to generate $1.2 million per year. With the new revenue being such a small part of the pot, many wonder if it’s even enough to really make a difference in infrastructure for cyclists. DiStefano said it’s a question nobody really knows the answer to just yet.

There are other components of the transportation package, including rebates for zero-emission and electric cars and funding for bridge repair. HB 2017 is now waiting for Governor Brown’s signature.

More information on the bill is available on the information sheet below provided by Senator Brian Boquist and Senator Lee Beyer..

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