Oregon’s transportation hole

nfib-logoBy Oregon NFIB,

State infrastructure is in need of an overhaul, but it’s unclear where the money will come from.

Oregon’s infrastructure is in poor shape and could face significant deterioration within the next two decades, according to the state’s department of transportation.

Basic maintenance costs to keep Oregon bridges in their current condition is estimated at $240 million a year for 20 years; to improve conditions, the state would need an additional $180 million a year in funding.

State lawmakers convened at the end of September for committee hearings on a host of issues, which included many that may eventually become hot-button legislative items next year. Earlier in the month, Senate President Peter Courtney called for legislature to pass a transportation funding bill in 2017, after a similar bill failed in 2015.

The issue of funding infrastructure costs, however, has become a political football in Oregon.

Senate Republicans say a funding package can be ready to go for a vote in 2016, not 2017, if the state’s clean fuels law gets repealed.

Although infrastructure improvements are needed, the solution to fund them should be fair, said Anthony Smith, NFIB Oregon state director.

“Certainly when you’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that money is going to come from somewhere,” he said. “What we’re most interested in is in a solution that doesn’t treat small businesses unfairly.”

Whatever the solution, small business owners definitely don’t want to see a repeat of 2015’s legislative attempts to raise Oregon’s $9.25 minimum wage and other troublesome legislation.

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