It's going to be an uphill battle to get Oregon voters to pass a gasoline tax increase that also eliminates the state's weight-distance tax. But a coalition of business, unions and trucking groups is planning a major campaign.
The state Legislature approved the measure last summer, but opponents launched a petition drive to put the issue to the state's voters. Early polls show that a majority of voters are against the 5-cents-per-gallon gas increase. The bill would replace the weight-distance tax with a diesel fuel tax and also raise vehicle registration fees.
But Fair Funding for Better Roads, which includes Associated Oregon Industries, Associated General Contractors and the Oregon Trucking Assn., believes the measure can pass with an all-out effort.
The group intends to wage a highly visible campaign, using television, newspapers, radio, direct mail, and grass-roots activities. The effort will likely cost several million dollars.
The main opponent of the gas tax increase is the American Automobile Assn. of Oregon/Idaho, which led the petition drive. Oregon Taxpayers United will also be involved in the campaign to defeat the bill, which will be known as Measure 82 when it goes up for a vote next May.