Figuring out how to pay for non-roadway transportation
Oregon faces major challenges in providing adequate and stable funding for non-road transportation modes, including transit, freight and passenger rail, ports, aviation, and bicycle and pedestrian paths. Funding these modes has been a perennial challenge in Oregon due to the constitutional restriction that limits motor vehicle taxes and fees exclusively to roads as well as the absence of a state sales tax, a primary source for transportation funding in other states.
Recognizing these challenges and the importance of a truly multi-modal transportation system to Oregon’s economy and qualify of life, Governor John Kitzhaber convened the Oregon Non-Roadway Transportation Funding Working Group in 2011 to engage elected officials and other public and private stakeholders to develop and implement dedicated funding for non-roadway transportation projects and programs.
In issuing its final report to the Governor, the Working Group, led by State Senator Lee Beyer and Pendleton Mayor Phil Houk, determined that non-roadway modes have funding needs of more than half a billion dollars per year. However, available resources for these modes are far less.
To address the gap, the Working Group identified over 60 funding measures for non-roadway transportation improvements and recommended a set of 16 priority funding options for subsequent consideration. These include:
- Expanded Lottery revenue
- Expanded cigarette tax
- Railroad property tax reallocation
- User fee for bikes
- Rail tax credit
- Urban Growth Boundary expansion windfall tax
- Expanded use of Oregon Transportation Infrastructure Bank
These options, taken as a whole, could make a significant contribution to the state’s non-roadway funding needs, but will not be capable of bridging the entire funding gap identified in the report.