Oregon Motorists In For Higher Taxes

Comments from State Representative Greg Smith

(Salem) “If today’s action is any indication, then Oregon motorists had better protect their wallets,” said State Representative Greg Smith (R-Heppner) today after the House Transportation Committee, controlled by majority party democrats, decided to sponsor a bill to jack up car title fees by nearly 300%. The Committee is also sponsoring a measure to punish people who use cell phones while driving.

Representative Smith opposes both pieces of legislation because, “here we are, right out of the starting block with the first two bills increase the burden on hard working Oregonians who are simply trying to make a living and happen to drive a car. It just sends a bad message about what we can expect for the rest of the legislative session.”
The first proposal would increase the current fee for a title certificate for car registered in Oregon for the first time from $55 to $155. The additional $100 is not earmarked for any specific purpose such as building new roads. There has also been no debate over how this new funding would fit into the big picture of transportation improvement projects around the state. “How come the first thing we talk about is more taxes? Why don’t we look for savings and efficiencies before raiding the pocketbooks of Oregon families?” asked Smith. The title fee is on top of the $27 annual vehicle registration fee for the average car.

The Legislature hiked these fees in 2001 and 2003 to fund road and bridge construction. In 2001 House Bill 2142 increased title fees to $30. In 2003 those charges once again went up to $55 and registration costs jumped from $30 to $54 in House Bill 2041.

The second measure slaps a fine of up to $90 on anyone caught using a cell phone in their car without using a hands-free device. Smith feels this would unduly penalize lots of folks in rural Oregon who need to travel long distances just to go to work, drop their kids off at school or go to the grocery store. Especially families who can’t always afford a fancy speaker phone on the dash board.

There is also the question of fairness. There’s been no discussion about consequences for people who put on make-up in the car, eat a burger, or referee the kids fighting in the back seat. In addition Smith is concerned about adding new duties for cops around the state. “Are we now going to have the mobile text messaging Gestapo handing out tickets? There are already laws on the books to reprimand distracted drivers. You can be held accountable if you don’t use common sense and watch where you’re going,” noted Smith.

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Posted by at 04:53 | Posted in Measure 37 | 6 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Greg – please do whatever you can to stop the senseless tax increases in Oregon. My wife and I have moved to Arkansas for our retirement due to the tax mess in Oregon and the crazy tax and spend liberals. Oregon has lost all our tax revenue forever because we are out of there!
    We are not the only ones, either.
    Wake up down there, please, before it is too late.

  • Steven Plunk

    Thank you Rep. Smith. Keep fighting against these bills. ODOT has proven it’s inability to spend money wisely so why give them more?

    As for the cell phone bill, you understand the problems with that one.

    Bills like these are why citizens do not want annual sessions.

  • nme

    These new car taxes are DRIVING me crazy. Greg, tell them to keep their foot off the tax pedal.

  • Captain_anon

    yes, once again, i have a dissenting voice.

    I’m no fan of additional taxes, unless we actually need them. so the questions i have are: because we rarely increase these fees, how has the fee devalued? inflation eats into those fees every year. and if we raise them once every 4 years, it may not be enough to cover inflation. but they would have to show us the numbers to be sure.

    secondly, if those fees didn’t even cover the cost of the service, then i think it’s entirely appropriate to raise them. and we don’t know if it does or doesn’t. it’s not cheap running registration. from keeping records, to staff time, to the monitoring of the cars emmissions etc. there are costs associated with it that we are not all aware of. the big question is, does the fee increase help cover those? because if it does, then charge it. no reason why we should all subsidize other drivers with our tax money.

  • Jerry

    Capt Anon – did you know that the stupid emissions check for any car made since 2000 is really just a tax, plain and simple? No car made since then doesn’t pass the test. Man, what a joke.
    Guess what? We are not all subsidizing drivers with our tax money. Have you heard of the gasoline tax? That is what everyone pays when they buy gas – that should more than cover the expenses.
    If the state can not handle registration and titles for the amount it charges now, then how about farming it out to the private sector like they did the license plates? I’ll be someone would be able to do it and do it better and for less!
    And again, your math troubles me. They are proposing an increase that is well over 100% – have you some notion that inflation in four years has risen that much????
    The fees increases and ill-advised and way too high. The reason they are being proposed is that is is much easier to raise “fees” as opposed to taxes (which these fees are).
    Right? Right.
    Thanks for listening.

    • Anonymous

      Jerry, slow your grizzled eyes down ma man and read what i wrote. i made no calculations. i am questioning a lot of the assumptions, and i don’t know all the answers, as you don’t either. your not an emissions tester, so you’re not qualified to say that all cars made after 2000 pass. i would bet most do, but not all. especially those that are modified. No, it’s not a tax, it’s a fee. a fee for a service rendered. you call it what you want, whatever. You’re not subsidizing anything here since you moved to arkansas. so you shouldn’t include yourself in any statement about who’s paying what.

      one thing about oregon is that it doesn’t raise fees when inflation goes up. for some reason, it waits years and years before trying to catch up. take the gas tax. according to the portland tribune, the gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1991 to its current 24-cents a gallon. that’s 16 years. *16 years*. how much has the dollar been devalued since then? well, an inflation calculator i found shows that 24 cents in 1991 is only worth 17 cents today. what cost 24 cents in 1991 would cost you 34 cents in 2005, so add on another 6% inflation from the last couple years. not only that, but costs have increased. so take that into consideration as well as the fact that cars are more efficient so use less gas (meaning less tax revenue) being generated. so that is an equation that does not mean there is enough revenue to ‘cover the expenses’ as you suggest. it’s not as simple as you think it is. you need to look deeper.

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