A bill proposed by Washington lawmakers last week could hit Oregonians right where it hurts — at the gas pump.
The bill, introduced in the Washington Legislature this month, is part of a comprehensive transportation package and proposes a fuel tax on neighboring states that import fuel from Washington.
Oregon is one of the biggest importers of fuel from Washington and likely would be most affected by the tax, along with Idaho and Alaska.
If implemented, the gas tax could contribute to Oregon’s already steep gas prices. In early February, Oregonians were paying an average of $3.96 at the pump for a gallon of regular, according to AAA, the highest since 2014 and the third-highest rate nationally.
According to a summary of the bill, fuel exported from Washington state is currently exempt from a gas tax. But if passed, the law would repeal that exemption and charge up to 6 cents per gallon for some exported fuel bound for states with lower gas taxes than Washington’s. The tax would take effect in 2023.
The proposed bill drew ire from Oregon politicians on both sides of the aisle, including the state’s top official.
Gov. Kate Brown tweeted that it was “unacceptable” for Washington to tax Oregonians at the gas pump to cover its own transportation costs. She said she has discussed the matter with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
And Oregon state Reps. Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, and David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, testified against the proposal before counterparts in the Washington Legislature. Boshart Davis said in a news release that the fuel tax was “offensive” and that Oregon shouldn’t have to pay for Washington’s infrastructure needs when it has its own.
Officials in Idaho also panned the bill. Gov. Brad Little called on Inslee to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.