June 16, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Portland, OR, – Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, Oregon’s largest transit workers’ union, has come out against the $8.2 billion transportation bill pending in the state legislature, saying it would be funded by “one regressive tax after another” in a June 14 posting on its Web site.
To fund projects such as widening Interstate 5 in Portland, the bill would raise the state’s gas tax from 30 to 44 cents a gallon, with an additional 9-cent levy in the Portland metropolitan area, and create an 0.1% payroll tax earmarked for mass transit. State Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) told the Portland Oregonian that the union’s position was “bizarre,” because the bill would secure hundreds of millions of dollars for maintaining and expanding public transit. “We don’t disagree that it will secure some funding,” Local 757 political coordinator Jared Franz responded, but the union called the bill’s transit component “tokenized.” Service Employees International Union Local 503, which represents most state government workers, said earlier this month that if the transportation package is passed without the state raising corporate taxes, it might put an initiative to overturn it on the state ballot. Read more