Oregon road-repair bill approved

| 7/17/2003

A $2.5 billion plan to fix Oregon’s roads and bridges appears to be back on track after a Senate panel unanimously approved the revised package that delays a tax credit for truckers.

HB2041, as amended, would eliminate an estimated $4 million gap in the 2003-2005 budget, addressing concerns by senators that had derailed a scheduled floor vote on the bill earlier this month.

The amended version approved by the Senate Revenue Committee July 14 doesn’t stray far from the original version that breezed through the House last month. But it deletes a provision giving truckdrivers $3 million a year for buying cleaner engines, and as much as $2 million a year to pay for mass transit and other purposes.

The compromise retains only the tax credit, but delays implementation so truckers could not claim it until 2005, The Oregonian reported. Truckers would be reimbursed from $400 to $925 for each engine bought in calendar years 2004 through 2007. The credit would still be limited to $3 million each year.

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

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

The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill by the end of the week.