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Gas tax ‘Yes’ campaign says it’s got $17,000 in pledges, will aim to raise more

Posted by on February 11th, 2016 at 1:21 pm

fix our streets
The campaign named a committee of backers

Five months after a poll showed a slight majority of likely Portland voters would support a temporary 10-cent gas tax to improve local streets, some donors are hoping cash will lock that lead in for the May election.

Backers of a local gas tax have so far pledged $17,000 for the effort, campaign strategist Stacey Dycus said Tuesday.

“We’re going to ask some local electeds to help chip in,” Dycus said. “We’re going to ask businesses to chip in. We’re looking for help from organizations. … Hopefully organizations and businesses and individuals are going to step up and help us tell the story.”

The Fix Our Streets campaign is expected to announce a committee of supporters Thursday. We’ll update this story with the full list of committee members once it has been made public.

Dycus, who has specialized in smaller-budget campaigns, said that though this one might raise enough for a targeted mailing or two, she didn’t think they’d be the best use of its money.

“I’m not convinced that mail is the best way to have impact on a small-budget campaign,” she said. “We’re going to be really counting on earned media, digital and social media.”

Dycus said the campaign has hired her frequent collaborator Jef Green of Polity Group as its fundraising consultant. She added that Mayor Charlie Hales, who isn’t running for re-election, has promised to help the campaign raise money, and that it’s welcoming people who’d like to volunteer to host house parties or recruit volunteers.

“It’s obvious that the petroleum industry is gearing up to fight this; they filed a ballot title challenge in court yesterday,” Dycus said. “Small contributions count, because this is a grassroots campaign. We have to have the support of folks who just want to help us get the word out.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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  • Lester Burnham February 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    This should also include bicycle licensing and registration. Everybody uses the streets, everybody should chip in. World-class biking infrastructure is wanted but it’s always somebody else who should pay. Time to change your thinking.

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  • dan February 11, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    So shortsighted for the petroleum industry to oppose this. What will happen to gas sales when all the roads are crumbling? But I suppose being shortsighted comes with the territory in that industry.

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    • meh February 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Considering how well PBOT has handled their cash in the past and that road maintenance has been deferred for years, how exactly will giving them more solve the problem?

      And the petroleum industry isn’t going to be paying the tax we all will.

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      • Todd Hudson February 11, 2016 at 2:25 pm

        Is there anyone else who’s reluctant to vote for this while Novick heads PBOT?

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        • Eric Leifsdad February 14, 2016 at 12:52 am

          I would vote for a $1.00 gas tax even if the plan was just to throw cash in a hole and burn it. PBOT has room for improvement, but cheap gas isn’t doing us much good.

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      • Chris I February 11, 2016 at 2:43 pm

        Then why are they fighting it?

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        • JeffS February 11, 2016 at 5:50 pm

          Because all the out-of-town commuters are going to start filling up at home, before they come into town. i think we all know it’s true, at least in the beginning. And because gas price has a direct effect on miles driven.

          A better question is why any of us should care what a trade group lobbyist has to say about this or any other issue.

          I do happen to share their position, but for unrelated issues. I simply don’t require any more asphalt.

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      • GlowBoy February 12, 2016 at 8:38 am

        “And the petroleum industry isn’t going to be paying the tax we all will.”

        NO! This is an even more enduring and false myth than the idea that gas taxes pay for most of the roads.

        Cost incidence is one of the most important concepts taught in basic microeconomics classes. When an additional cost appears – such as an added gas tax – it is shared by both the consumer (in the form of higher prices) and the producer (in the form of reduced margin, because they can’t pass the entire 10 cents along).

        Increasing the price reduces the level of demand for a product, especially over time. So while suppliers may initially pass the entire tax along, they won’t be able to sustain it. Because decreasing the price also stimulates demand, they will back off a bit – not the full 10 cents, but more than a penny or two – in order to maximize profit, at a price level somewhat below a 10 cent increase, but also at a higher quantity of sales than what they’d get at that +10c price point. The exact amount passed on to the consumer depends on the sensitivity of both supply and demand to price changes (what economists call elasticity), but equilibrium will probably be reached at an increase of between 3 and 7 cents per gallon.

        Which means that the oil industry will end up earning between 3 and 7 cents less per gallon. THAT is why the industry always fights gas tax increases tooth and nail: it DOESN’T all come out of our pockets! A big chunk of the tax comes out of theirs.

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        • GlowBoy February 12, 2016 at 8:47 am

          I will also add that given current market conditions, I suspect that more of the tax might be eaten by suppliers than usual, for a couple of reasons:
          1. The current supply glut, due to severe overproduction and excessive exploration that resulted from high prices in the late 2000s, means supply is already less elastic than usual. They can’t as easily adjust their production downward in response to reduced demand, which makes price competition more intense and forces them to eat more of the tax.
          2. High gas prices are a recent enough memory that automakers are still making a lot more fuel efficient vehicles than say, 2007, so consumers have more choices. This won’t last forever, because consumers are snapping up fuel hogs again and more frugal vehicles are selling poorly, but at the moment this makes consumer fuel demand more elastic than usual. This also forces producers to eat a larger share of the cost. Fuel is a buyer’s market right now.

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    • PNP February 11, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      And aren’t paving materials partly petroleum products?

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  • BeavertonRider February 11, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Lets hope the anti-gas tax side wins this fight. PBOT is a bad steward of our tax dollars as it is. As I pointed out in detail months ago, the department misprioritizes spending. Heck, the City’s inspector general (whatever he’s called) released a report in 2014 saying precisely this.

    PBOT deserves no more money until it stops it’s marketing activities, eliminates any and all diversity and inclusion staff positions and work, and eliminates any non-road construction, maintenance, and safety work.

    The petrol industry was right to challenge the ballot title and ballot language. Opponents are right to point out that the list of projects is not set in stone and the ballot language does not ensure that additonal revenue raised will be spent of very specific road construction, maintenance, or safety projects.

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    • paikiala February 11, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      You use the words ‘our tax dollars’ but your handle implies you live in Beaverton.
      Am I missing something?
      I suppose Beaverton is a poor steward of Portland tax revenue as well.

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      • Adron @ Transit Sleuth February 12, 2016 at 9:18 am

        Beaverton is definitely a bad steward of Portland’s tax dollars – if it’s getting them, and I assume a lot of Portland’s money flows that way inadvertently.

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    • peejay February 12, 2016 at 7:29 am

      Hey, thanks for that comment. I’ve had problems with your comments in the past because of your monotone complaining about pro-bike sentiments as expressed in a bike blog, but now you’ve fleshed out a little more of your character, with your opposition to diversity and inclusion, and it helps me understand more about you. Now I really don’t have to pay attention to your comments.

      This is why we concern ourselves with things more than just bikes here. Because there are bigger issues, and everything is connected. I don’t want to ride my bike in a city that isn’t also trying to do something about the vast racial inequities built into every system on power, and I’ll fight any attempts to stop that. Now I know one person who is not on my side.

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      • Anne Hawley
        Anne Hawley February 12, 2016 at 7:42 am

        Thank you, peejay. I’ve tried expressing this view to this commenter recently (with zero effect, of course) but you’ve said it more eloquently.

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        • alankessler February 12, 2016 at 2:49 pm

          I tried as well. But I was (rightly) moderated out of the conversation.

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  • BJCefola February 11, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    There are all kinds of traffic control/safety improvements people would like to see in my neighborhood. The constant refrain from PBOT, one which I have no reason to doubt, is that there isn’t any money for it.

    The gas tax increase is a cost-efficient way of getting more funding, charged to road users most responsible for the need for safety improvements. I think it deserves support.

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  • BeavertonRider February 12, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Very nice personal attacks that are permitted here…

    Peejay, I dont think ive complained about pro-bike comments here. I have, as i did yesterday, commented about the very clear anti-car opinions here that discourage me from contributing $ to this site or becoming more involved in bike causes here in PDX.

    I find it interesting that you would interpret my comments criticizing the prioritization of PBOT dollars toward diversity and inclusion staff to be reflective of a more general opposition to diversity and inclusion. That’s quite a silly and illogical interpretation. It’s also incorrect.

    Is it unimaginable that one can value and advocate for enhanced diversity and inclusion efforts while also criticizing wasteful and misprioritized PBOT spending? Really?

    It’s dad that expressing a non-comforming opinion here results in personal attacks that are allowed to remain in place and not be moderated. It’s quite maddening and also results in maintaining the closed off bubble here at bikeportland.org.

    I hope Jonathan lets this comment through…

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    • Peejay February 12, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      There is currently not enough space for bikes to operate safely on most streets in Portland, as currently configured. The reason is because bikes and cars cannot share the same space without some degree of protected separation between the two modes. That separation will mean some space must be taken away from cars, since they have almost all of it presently. The space cars take up on our public rights of way also contributes to unsafe walking, wheelchair operation, and breathing. We must reallocate some space away from cars to address these real and serious issues as wel, for the overall good of society. There will still be room to drive if that reallocation happens.

      Was that idea anti-car? Fine. Then I’m anti-car.

      As for your positions on diversity and inclusion, we have your comment earlier, and one a while back ridiculing the idea that women might want their own group ride event. So, based on that evidence, I’m going to make some assumptions about you.

      Non-conforming opinions are fine, but non-constructive ones that are deliberately antagonizing, less so. It’s interesting that you say you would otherwise give money to Bikeportland and get involved in bike causes in Portland if you didn’t hear so many opinions that don’t conform to your own. I’m interested in knowing what causes you’d support.

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      • BeavertonRider February 12, 2016 at 9:59 pm

        This is such an interesting response, peejay. And I hope Jonathan will my reply to be posted.

        First, you’re not unique here at bikeportland in unfairly and inaccurately representing the opinions of others you disagree with. It’s quite common practice here actually to do so.

        Second, of course, your suggestion about separation in infrastructure is hardly anti-car. Yet, you were compelled to suggest that it was to adopt a victim stance. That’s curious in itself. Nothing I have ever commented here would lead any reasonable person to conclude that I would view your separation suggestion as anti-car. The anti-car attitude I have referred to here at bikeportland has been those comments and opinions that demonize drivers (for example, the suggestion that driving recklessly is standard operation for drivers as one commenter said yesterday here) or comments that are derogatory toward drivers who have done nothing more than drive their vehicle (Adam H. does this often).

        IMO, your separation idea is on that I agree with. I commute 13 miles each way from Beaverton to Lloyd Center and back home. I hate riding many stretches of that commute whether it’s tolerating the noxious fumes on my up and around OHSU or fighting drivers along Beaverton-Hillsdale Rd when the bike lane disappears in places. I’d much rather have dedicated bikeways without any vehicle traffic at all. But you’re not interested in that.

        Third, you know nothing about my position(s) on diversity and inclusion. You only now my opinion on PBOT’s allocation of money toward funding a diversity and inclusion office and staff. How that lends itself to my opinions re: the broader issue of enhancing diversity, generally, and improving inclusionary planning, specifically, is something you know nothing about.

        Now, had you asked a clarifying question rather than personally attacking me, I would provided an explanation. I would have noted that a) PBOT’s diversity and inclusion office and staff duplicate existing City diversity and inclusion planning administration; and b) that even if that were not the case, funding such staffing pales in comparison to the priority of properly funding road construction, maintenance, and safety which the City’s leaders acknowledge is in “alarming” disrepair. Neither suggests opposition, generally, to enhancing diversity or inclusionary planning, but rather suggests disagreement with PBOT’s ability to effectively allocate and fund actual transportation projects.

        But, again, you were not interested in this. You were more interested in attributing false opinions/motivations to me because I merely disagreed with something you seemingly support.

        I believe my opinions reflecting my opposition to a City gas tax are constructive. Over mutliple threads here at bikeportland, I have cited specific spending priorities and decisions which demonstrate my opinion that the City squanders far too much money on non-essential, non-core functions that should otherwise be spent on PBOT road construction, maintenance, safety, and bikeways planning and construction. Yes, it is non-conforming, but citing actual budget data, actual mayoral statements regarding spending priorities and how those conflict with current “alarm” concerning roads is hardly not constructive.

        Again, I hope Jonathan will permit this to be posted.

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