SALEM — An Oregon Senate committee is scheduled to hear from the public Wednesday about a plan to raise gas taxes, fund transportation projects and repeal a carbon-reduction program.
The plan is the result of weeks of negotiations between lawmakers and Gov. Kate Brown’s office. It faces strong resistance from environmentalists and many Democrats in the House.
The plan would raise the gas tax by 4 cents to 34 cents a gallon and hike a variety of other fees, raising an estimated $340 million a year for roads, bridges, airports and public transit projects around the state.
Oregon’s low-carbon fuel standard would be repealed just three months after lawmakers saved the program, which aims to create a market for cleaner burning fuels by requiring oil companies to reduce carbon emissions from gasoline and diesel by 10 percent.
Republicans demanded the repeal, saying they’d block a gas tax hike if it wasn’t. They noted the cleaner burning fuels program projected to raise gas taxes by 4 to 19 cents once fully implemented.
The transportation plan now being considered would replace the clean fuels program with alternative programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But environmental groups say the replacement initiatives likely would not achieve their intended emissions reductions.
In addition to the 4 cents gas tax hike, the bill would increase a variety of other fees and taxes:
— Driver’s license fees would go up $10 for eight years.
— Vehicle registration fees would increase $10 to $53 per year.
— Fees to register electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids would go up to $188 a year, since drivers of those vehicles pay little to no money in gas taxes.
— People who work in much of the Portland and Eugene metro areas would pay a new income tax for transit projects, which would be withheld from their paychecks and paid by their employer. The tax would cost $63 a year for a person with a $34,000 salary. Someone making $55,000 would pay $104 per year.