Metro transportation measure fight heats up

Multnomah County

Supporters and opponents increase the pressure over $5.2B initiative

A MAX train in Portland (Portland Tribune file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — The fight over Metro’s $5.2 billion regional transportation ballot measure heated up Friday. A coalition of regional mayors released a letter supporting the measure on the Nov. 3 general election ballot and opponents posted their first online ad saying it will hurt employers and not reduce congestion.

The measure is intended to help fund projects in 17 transportation corridors in the region, including a new Southwest Corridor MAX line between Portland and Bridgeport Village just outside of Tualatin.

The letter from the Metropolitan Mayors’ Consortium said the projects and programs to be funded by the measure would have numerous benefits, from creating jobs to increasing equity, improving safety and fighting climate change.

“We urge an affirmative vote by the electorate in November to create jobs, help reinvigorate the economy, and move our region’s transportation system forward,” said the letter sent on behalf of all mayors in the tricounty region.

The ad by Stop the Metro Wage Tax said the new 0.75% payroll tax that would be imposed on employers with more 25 workers would eliminate jobs and prevent new ones from being created. It also said only 3% of the projects are road improvements.

“Instead of celebrating Labor Day with a family picnic, Metro wants to tax your labor and cut your family paycheck forever,” said opposition spokesman Jeff Reading. “This is the wrong tax on the wrong people at the wrong time.”

On Sept. 3, Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen said he would ask the Metro Council to delay and phase in the payroll tax if the measure is approved at the general election. The changes had been requested by the Tigard Chamber of Commerce, although most others chambers in the region oppose the measure even if they are made.

The Metropolitan Mayors’ Consortium letter can be read here.

The opponent’s ad can be seen here.

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