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Transportation
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Transportation Package: Oregon's Leaders Agree On Need, Not Timing

marquam_bridge_0.jpg
M.O. Stevens
/
Wikimedia Commons http://bit.ly/1P3U0z8
File photo. The Marquam Bridge carries Interstate 5 over the Willamette River in Portland.

Oregon's political and business leaders agree on the need to pass a state-funded transportation spending package. But they don't agree on how soon it should be approved.

That difference of opinion was on display Monday at a summit meeting in Portland.

On one hand, Oregon Governor Kate Brown was clear. ”I've said it before and I'll say it again: Oregon needs a transportation package,” she said.

But the Democrat doesn't think the time is right for lawmakers to work towards a deal in the 2016 legislative session. She wants to wait until after next year's election. That's when voters could potentially decide whether to repeal a hotly debated clean fuels standard that could drive up the cost of gas.

Republican state Representative John Davis was among those who told the business leaders he doesn't think the issue can wait.

"The need is crushing and the need is now,” he said.

The transportation package would pour millions into repairing and improving Oregon's roads. It would likely be financed largely through an increase in the state's gas tax.