SALEM — Less than a week after one lawmaker cast gloom over prospects for a transportation funding package, a group of lawmakers met Wednesday afternoon in Gov. Kate Brown’s office to discuss the issue.
At least six lawmakers were at the meeting: Democratic Sens. Lee Beyer of Springfield and Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, Republican Sens. Jeff Kruse of Roseburg and Doug Whitsett of Klamath Falls, and Republican Reps. Cliff Bentz of Ontario and John Davis of Wilsonville. They, plus Democratic Reps. Caddy McKeown of Coos Bay and Tobias Read of Beaverton, were engaged in preliminary discussions earlier this session, until Republicans broke them off after Democratic majorities prevailed with passage of a low-carbon fuel standard that the GOP adamantly opposed. Brown signed it into law.
Also present for the closed-door discussions was Matt Garrett, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
No lobbyists for interest groups were seen, which means that lawmakers appear to be focused on resolving their differences over the standard and finding a pathway to a broader discussion about funding.
Any measure to raise the gasoline tax or other revenue would require 60 percent supermajorities in each chamber. Democrats have that in the Senate, but are one short in the House.
Beyer and McKeown lead the relevant transportation committees in each chamber; Davis, the top Republican on the transportation committee, and Bentz, the top Republican on the House Revenue Committee. Johnson is co-chairwoman of the relevant joint budget subcommittee.