Gov. Brown abandons $343.5M transportation deal

Numbers on which the proposal was built were flawed, state agency admits.

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Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday called off negotiations to salvage a transportation-funding proposal by the end of the legislative session.

The talks centered on a plan to repeal the clean fuels program and replace it with an initiative that would both raise money for infrastructure improvement as well as carbon reduction measures.

“Given the complexity of the issues and the remaining time available, there simply isn’t a path forward through both chambers for a proposal that accomplishes both this session,” the governor said in her statement.

Brown’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after a lengthy hearing on the proposed swap, which was embedded in House Bill 2281. Testimony in the hearing undercut the premise that the new package would produce greater carbon-emissions reductions than the low-carbon fuel standard, making a deal impossible. 

(SOURCE: Willamette Week)

The reason negotiations broke down? Numbers on which Brown’s proposal was built were flawed, the state agency that came up with them admitted.

The moment in the hearing on House Bill 2281B that turned Brown’s play into a political dumpster fire came two hours and 22 minutes in, when Oregon Department of Transportation director Matthew Garrett made an embarrassing admission: The largest new source of carbon-emission reductions in the proposed transportation package was an illusion.

The proposal Brown and her allies presented projected that if ODOT spent $20 million on traffic and safety improvements, the state could reduce emissions by more than 2 million tons a year. That amounted to 20 percent of the package’s proposed reduction. Garrett testified yesterday, however, the underlying calculations his agency had provided were wrong—they’d be only about one-quarter of the published figure.

(SOURCE: Willamette Week)

Republicans, hoping for a full repeal of the clean fuels program, bemoaned the breakdown.

“Unfortunately, with today’s decision to kill the transportation package, Democrats have left Oregonians with a hidden gas tax and no infrastructure improvements,” [House Republican Leader Mike] McLane said.

In a statement, Sen. President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said he ended the talks and said he does not expect the Legislature to consider a transportation package this session: “The votes just aren’t there,” Courtney said. “We’re out of time in this session, but the Senate won’t give up. Bridges still need to be fixed. Highways still need to be repaved. Culverts still need to be replaced. Buses need to run.”

(SOURCE: Statesman-Journal)

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