Gov. Kate Brown spurns bipartisanship, sacrifices road funding

Jeff Kruse

by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)

This week, Gov. Kate Brown signed one of her first bills into law. I, along with many of my colleagues, called upon the governor to veto that bill and send it back to the Legislature because we don’t know the extent of the negative consequences of SB 324. She chose to sign the bill anyway, closing the door on her first opportunity as governor to show pragmatic leadership and restore faith in our state government.

SB 324, known as the low carbon fuel standard, was the wrong bill at the wrong time. As gas prices spike, the Legislature should not be responsible for a guaranteed price increase for Oregonians at the pump, the amount of which even proponents of the bill admit is unknown. Oregon has long been a leader in carbon reduction and pioneering environmental policies, but we cannot abide laws that sacrifice our small businesses and working families in their wake.

Ultimately, this is a matter of priorities. We need a transportation package that strengthens our infrastructure and grows our economy. Instead, legislative leaders chose to prioritize a partisan, divisive bill with little to no benefit for Oregonians or the environment at the expense of a bipartisan transportation package. By signing SB 324, the governor killed the possibility of a meaningful, productive bipartisan conversation about how we fix Oregon’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. It would be fiscally irresponsible to support a gas tax to fund transportation when we do not yet know the effect SB 324 will have on gas prices. Oregonians cannot afford to pay more at the pump.

Sadly, Oregonians did not have the chance to voice their concerns and decide if this is the right policy for their families and small businesses. By placing an emergency clause on the bill, Democrat legislators stole the opportunity for Oregon voters to refer it to the ballot. The way SB 324 was strong-armed through the legislative process at a politically sensitive time is disrespectful to Oregonians, and Gov. Brown passed up the opportunity to stop this policy in its tracks and restore accountability and transparency to the legislative process.

We need a transportation package. Now that SB 324 is law, I hope Democrats have a plan B to fund improvements to our transportation infrastructure without sticking Oregonians with a bill they cannot afford. Gov. Brown should have hit the “reset button” to restore accountability and transparency to the legislative process.

NOTE: Newspapers across Oregon warned against the passage of SB 324 (Low Carbon Fuel Standard)