House Democrats Seek Gas Tax Hike

HB 2653 Automatically Raises the Gas Tax Every Five Years

SALEM”” As Oregon’s gas prices reach $3.50 per gallon, House Democrats are proposing a gas tax increase to make drivers feel more pain at the pump. They’ve advanced HB 2653, a bill to raise the gas tax by five cents and to increase mileage tax rates on truckers. In addition, the bill automatically increases the gas tax every five years, without consideration to gas prices at the time.

“Oregon’s average gas price is the third highest in the nation,” said House Republican Leader Wayne Scott (R-Canby). “Now Democrats want working families and small businesses to pay even more. We don’t need higher fuel taxes to slow our economy and jeopardize jobs.”Over the next two years, Oregonians are projected to spend over $880 million in fuel taxes and over $500 million in weight-mile taxes. Oregon already ranks among the top third of states with the highest gas taxes. During the 2007 session, Democrats have also proposed a 44 percent increase in vehicle registration fees.

“The Democrats want to raise the gas tax at the same time they’re proposing to increase the Department of Transportation budget by 23 percent, with millions of dollars in pork for non-highway projects,” Rep. Scott said. “Before asking Oregonians to pay higher gas prices, we need to better utilize existing funds by prioritizing our spending and identifying efficiencies within Oregon’s massive transportation bureaucracy.”

Rep. Scott said he’s also concerned about further raising weight-mile tax rates on truckers. The tax rate was raised nearly five percent in 2003, and truckers subsidize almost 12 percent of ODOT’s budget. This session, truckers also face dozens of new regulations and mandates.

“Raising taxes on truckers will only serve to increase the costs of everyday items, such as groceries or clothing,” Rep. Scott said. “HB 2653 is actually a double-tax increase on working families, because they’ll have to pay the added transportation costs through higher prices at the market.”

HB 2653 has been reported out by the House Transportation Committee, and will be heard by the Democratic majority Friday in the House Revenue Committee.