14 Jul

A decent legislature, but somehow it never arrived at transportation

This legislature figured out, relatively peacefully, how to spend more than $16 billion, despite a sudden replacement of the governor in the middle of the process. It wasn’t a small achievement, but every dollar has to be justified by the will of Oregon voters.

Which is why the 2015 legislature’s most significant .achievement may be increasing the number of registered voters by 300,000. Motor Voter now means that anyone with a driver’s license can vote.

Most Oregonians now don’t have to worry about registration procedures, or our ludicrous Rajneeshee-inspired 20-days-before-election registration cutoff. Now, if the state knows who you are – and trust me, the Department of Motor Vehicles knows who you are – you can vote.

That’s better than the legislature did on another driving issue. In their biggest failure, legislators could not assemble a transportation package, couldn’t find new resources to strengthen Oregon’s swiftly deteriorating infrastructure.

Gov. Kate Brown declared it her priority, but the legislature got hung up on carbon-cutting legislation, and the Department of Transportation’s failed to produce a credible proposal.

Everything came apart, although it seems there was a deal to be found, but neither party looked hard enough or early enough.

Both parties need to keep looking. At least Oregon traffic should give them lots of time.

NOTE: This commentary appeared in KGW-TV, 7/11/15.

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