Legislature asking Oregonians how to pay more for transportation

By Rob Zako
May 2, 2024

The Joint Committee on Transportation (JCT) will stop in Eugene on July 17 to discuss the need for stable and sufficient transportation funding in anticipation of the 2025 legislative session.

2023–25 ODOT Legislative Budget: $6.1 Billion in Expenditures
Source: ODOT

UPDATE 5/11/24: Added more external links and further reading.

BEST believes we should first ask Oregonians what they believe is worth paying for—and who decides—before asking how they want to pay. These are the fundamental questions, in order or importance:

  1. Outcomes: Who benefits?
  2. Governance: Who decides?
  3. Revenues: Who pays?

Meanwhile, Governor Tina Kotek, the Oregon Legislature, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) want to know if you want to pay more at the pump, at the toll booth, for every mile you drive, or some other way. Legislative leaders will be coming to Eugene on July 17 to tell you they need more money and to learn which form of payment you prefer. (Below see the announcement from the Legislature and guidance from the Governor.)

Driving this discussion are concerns that ODOT doesn’t have enough funding to maintain and operate the highway system we have, and that the gas tax has become obsolete.

The chart above shows that ODOT allocates only 9% of its budget to maintenance and operations but 52% to capital investments. Couldn’t the Legislature shift its priorities to provide more to the former and less to the latter?

ODOT says, “The gas tax has served Oregonians well for years, but the problem with using it to fund a transportation system is that cars are using less gas as they become more efficient.” Couldn’t the gas tax be indexed to 1) average fuel efficiency and 2) inflation so that revenues are stable?

In the coming months, BEST will be focusing on what transportation investments deliver the best value to all Oregonians, and on how priorities are decided. If we see there are good investments needing funding, we will look to see what are fair, efficient, and adequate sources of revenue.

To learn more, see the headlines below under “Further reading.” They paint a picture of the conflicting forces at play as Oregon grapples with the challenges of providing transportation for everyone.

If you wish to be part of this discussion, join our Cycle of Change Legislation working group.


The Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation (JCT) will be holding 12 meetings and local tours around the state to discuss the need for stable and sufficient transportation funding in anticipation of the 2025 legislative session. The goals of these meetings are to:

  1. Build public understanding of transportation funding challenges and potential funding tools to address those challenges.
  2. Build legislative understanding of statewide transportation needs and shared priorities.
  3. Build local, regional, statewide support and a sense of urgency for a transportation funding package focused on maintenance, operations, and safety.
  4. Gather input from the public and community leaders about preferred methods for addressing the transportation funding challenge.

The JCT will be stopping in Eugene on Wednesday, July 17. Further details will be announced.

External links

Further reading

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