BEND, OR -- Governor Kate Brown and state lawmakers agree one of the Legislature's top priorities this session is passage of a transportation package. A Deschutes County Commissioner is taking a lead role in development of that funding package.
County Commissioner Tammy Baney chairs the state Transportation Commission, which oversees ODOT and provides guidance on transportation-related policy. It’s also helping lawmakers determine what should be in a funding package. Baney says lawmakers have a difficult job ahead, this session. "It’s around $474 million additional dollars on an annual basis in order for us to get ahead of where we are. Unfortunately, in the state of Oregon, we do not have an index gas tax; we have not increased the gas tax. That is how our road infrastructure, in particular, is cared for. So, maintenance and preservation is a number one priority."
She admits the gas tax is an outdated funding model. "We are looking at new ways to raise revenue that are not gas tax related, but usage fees," Baney tells KBND News. "So, there will be a broad scope of ideas that the Legislature can choose from. Maybe it is an increase in the gas tax, of which – an increase in the gas tax on the state level: 50% goes to the state, 30% goes to the counties and 20% goes to the cities." She says that small amount for cities and counties means local municipalities still need to address their own funding shortfalls. "Taking Bend as an example, they will probably need to do something locally, as well. Unfortunately, the maintenance and preservation of road infrastructure, you have to pay for it. You either pay for it now or you pay for it in the future. I think it’s the responsible thing to do to take care of the investment that’s already there."
Listen to our full conversation with Commissioner Baney at our Podcast Page or click HERE. Central Oregon cities and counties recently each signed a resolution supporting the Legislature’s work on a transportation funding package, which lawmakers failed to pass last session.