Oregonians could face a state gasoline tax hike and higher fees on vehicles through the state’s Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009.
The act, proposed in November by Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D), would raise gasoline taxes by 2 cents per gallon, double vehicle titling fees to $110, triple vehicle registration fees from $27 to $81, and create a new $100 fee for titling cars in the state.
“This is the way to get Oregon out of this economic crisis—building roads, bridges, and public transit is good for the economy and our citizens by putting people back to work,” Kulongoski said in a press statement announcing his proposal.
The state unemployment rate is approaching 7.3 percent—eighth highest in the country. The national average is 6.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
$500 Million More
Kulongoski estimates his plan would take nearly $500 million more a year from taxpayers. The state faces an estimated $1 billion fall in revenue this year without the new taxes.
The governor says the money will pay for 2,100 new construction-related jobs over the next five years.
“Once again the Democrats have been long on ideas for spending money and growing government, but very short on ideas to stimulate the economy and make it easier for families to make it through the recession,” said Oregon House Republican leader Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg).
“If the governor really wants to ‘get Oregon out of this economic crisis’ he should get government out of the way of new energy sources and technologies that would bring lower costs and jobs to Oregon, not raise taxes,” said Russ Walker, Oregon state director for FreedomWorks Foundation, a national grassroots education organization that fights for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom, and director of the Campaign for Affordable and Reliable Energy.
“It’s hard to think of a time when taxing people more helped anyone in an economic crisis,” Walker continued. “This kind of idea hasn’t worked at the federal level, and it won’t work in Oregon.”
Kulongoski said the recent drop in gas prices might make the tax increase easier to accept. Oregonians currently pay 43.4 cents in taxes per gallon of gas. The tax increase would move Oregon into the top 20 highest gas tax states.
FreedomWorks has been organizing grassroots protests against tax hikes in Oregon.
Joseph Onorati ([email protected]) is staff writer for FreedomWorks Foundation.