Trucker tax credits detour Oregon road-repair bill

| Thursday, July 10, 2003

A $2.5 billion plan to fix Oregon’s roads and bridges stalled Monday when the state Senate voted to send it back to committee for possible revisions, according to local media.

The transportation financing plan – HB2041 – previously breezed through the House and was expected to do the same in the Senate before heading to the governor for approval.

Instead, Senators decided the finance package needed more work and sent it back to the Senate Revenue Committee.

At issue for Senators is a provision giving truckdrivers $3 million a year in tax credits for buying cleaner engines. The credits would be funded from a transportation reinvestment pot filled by personal income taxes from jobs created by bridge work.

Despite the setback, Gov. Ted Kulongoski and other proponents said they were optimistic the proposal would be back before the Senate soon.

“It is a minor bump in the road,” Kulongoski spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn told The Coos Bay World of the Senate vote. “The governor feels confident the package will come back looking just about the same” as the House-backed version.

Most of the $2.5 billion the plan would raise over 10 years comes from bonds repaid from higher vehicle registration and title fees.

About $1.6 billion would go toward repairing or replacing 480 bridges on the state’s major highways. The rest of the money would go to cities, counties and the state for road projects.

Commercial truck registration fees would increase about 53 percent, and their weight-mile taxes would climb almost 10 percent starting Jan. 1, The Oregonian reported. Car title fees would increase from $30 to $55 starting Jan. 1. Registration fees would go from $30 to $54 every two years.

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