SALEM, OR -- At the start of the 2017 legislative session, the Governor and a number of lawmakers identified comprehensive transportation funding as a top priority. They failed to agree on a package, in the 2016 session.
Three weeks in, lawmakers have yet to take any notable steps in the process, and State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) says it’s possible it could be delayed. "I’m even hearing that there’s potential that that flops over into either a special session or a short session in ’18, because it will take that long. Some of us are wondering what it is that’s really going to take that long. But, part of the issue is going to be what’s happening at the federal level." He tells KBND News federal decisions will impact the direction of state and local funding.
"Ultimately, you need strong infrastructure that’s there and available, if you want economic expansion and growth. Those two go hand in hand, but the transportation necessities need to lead in that regard," says Knopp. "To the degree that we can come up with a package that people can support, if that takes all session then so be it. But, I’m hopeful that it doesn’t continue on for another year or more." He says there is work being done in various transportation subcommittees and work groups. Knopp is hopeful state lawmakers can come up with something that will get bipartisan support before the end of this session.
Knopp says PERS reform and affordable housing are other top priorities. To address the latter, he wants to start with looking at the imbalance in land and housing supply, and demand. "We really need to focus on that issue and work toward allowing local governments the ability to expand as it relates to affordable housing. So, we have several bills that relate to land use specific things that would bring some relief. It’s not going to solve the problem entirely, but it would bring some relief to the issue. So, we’re going to be working on those probably all session long. I don’t think a lot of that stuff is going to come up early in the process."
To hear our full conversation with State Senator Tim Knopp, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.