Oregon Gov. Brown to Inslee: Put the idea of a fuel tax ‘back on the shelf’

… Every day, Oregonians and Washingtonians cross our shared border for work, commerce and recreation. Our communities, our economies and our peoples are linked.

That’s why, if Washington leaders are advancing a policy that impacts the working families on our side of the river without benefit, I expect, at the very least, the common courtesy of a phone call.

Unfortunately, no one in Washington state consulted with me or my office before bringing forward the shortsighted tax increase on fuel exported to Oregon, Alaska and Idaho. In Oregon, more than 90% of our fuel is refined in Washington. A tax increase of even a few cents could place an unreasonable burden on Oregonians, who are already facing the same pain at the gas pump as people in Washington.

Let me be clear: Oregon will not stand for taxation levied by Washington leaders with no consultation with our state government, our business community or our residents. Taxes on interstate commerce such as this are of questionable legality, and if Washington moves forward with implementing this proposal, legal challenges will undoubtedly be brought forward. …

Our two states have worked together to craft cost-sharing agreements and bi-state entities to finance shared transportation projects — and it is not an understatement to say those agreements have taken decades to finalize. … Oregonians have often stepped up to pay their share of costs for mutually beneficial projects because we understand the value for our economy, infrastructure and people.

Now, though, Oregon businesses and families are being asked to pay Washington taxes to help fund Washington’s share of these joint projects. That is not what Oregonians agreed to — and it puts into jeopardy the carefully balanced agreements that our residents and businesses have supported so far. It is shortsighted for Washington leaders to throw away decades of hard work and compromise by pursuing a quick fix for this year’s transportation package. …

So, Gov. Inslee, and Washington legislators, I am imploring you: put this bad idea back on the shelf, where it belongs. Let’s figure out a better way, together.

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