SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION

 

 

January 17, 2005   Hearing Room C

3:00 PM     Tapes  1 - 2

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Sen. Joanne Verger, Chair

Sen. Doug Whitsett, Vice-Chair

Sen. Rick Metsger

Sen. Floyd Prozanski

Sen. Bruce Starr

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Judith Callens, Committee Administrator

Gary Roulier, Committee Assistant

 

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD & WITNESSES: 

                                                INFORMATIONAL MEETING                                     

                                                            ConnectOregon (proposed SB 71)

 

 

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 1, A

003

Chair Verger

Calls the meeting to order at 3:04 p.m., and opens an informational meeting on ConnectOregon.

CONNECTOREGON – INFORMATIONAL MEETING

014

Chair Verger

Explains the area of emphasis for the committee, which will focus on a competitive economic agenda as it pertains to a healthy infrastructure of rail, marine and airports.

031

Chris Warner

Transportation Policy Advisor and Legislative Director, Governor’s Office. Presents (EXHIBIT A) and stresses the importance of a viable transportation system to the economy.

047

Chris Warner

Reviews recent investments in transportation within the state and the resultant job creation. Outlines the Governor’s position on SB 71 (2005) and summarizes the provisions of the bill.

080

Chris Warner

Emphasizes that the ConnectOregon program will enhance job creation, and help the state keep pace with the growing economy.

095

Chris Warner

Continues to explain how transportation investment will assist Oregon’s economy. Adds that additional investment could result in reduced shipping costs, further enhancing Oregon’s economy.

114

Chris Warner

Comments that these enhancements will maximize Oregon’s inherent transportation systems, i.e., ports, international airports, two interstate highways, and two class A railroads.

140

Chris Warner

Explains the possible multiplier effect, and the increased ability to attract federal dollars.

153

Chris Warner

Stresses that utilizing the state bonding authority for these strategic investments will create wealth.

161

Bruce Warner

Director, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Presents EXHIBIT B and details the provisions of SB 71 (2005) and ConnectOregon, a proposed $100 million, lottery-backed bond program.

174

Bruce Warner

Outlines why investments in airports are so critical, and the role that connecting airports play in the economy.

186

Bruce Warner

Talks about the expected increase in marine shipments in the near future, and the importance of being able to ship materials both in and out of Oregon.

202

Bruce Warner

Comments on the role of public transportation in reducing congestion, and the resulting additional capacity for moving freight.

221

Bruce Warner

Continues an explanation of the provisions of SB 71, and notes that the intent is to connect the various modes of transportation, and make them work as a “system.”

242

Bruce Warner

Discusses how the related departments (i.e., Aviation and Economic Development) will work with ODOT to determine which projects will bring the greatest benefit.

263

Bruce Warner

Explains how the projects will be “vetted.”

282

Bruce Warner

Comments that projects could be approved as early as 2006. Summarizes the benefits of the funding through the diversification of the transportation infrastructure.

300

Chair Verger

Asks for a clarification of the total amount of the bonds for the project.

304

Bruce Warner

Responds that the total amount would be $100 million.

313

Chair Verger

Asks if these bonds will depend in any way on the expansion of the lottery.

314

Chris Warner

Answers that they are not dependent on any kind of lottery expansion.

321

Chair Verger

Asks who will be making the final determination of which projects will go forward, and if the final decision will be with the Oregon Transportation Commission.

325

Bruce Warner

Responds that assumption is correct.

330

Sen. Whitsett

Asks what the annualized cost would be to repay the bonds.

334

Bruce Warner

Answers the amount is dependent on the term and interest rates, but estimates the cost to be $8-10 million annually.

342

Sen. Whitsett

Asks where the lottery income will come from, and what other programs would be reduced.

353

Bruce Warner

Defers to the bond experts from the treasury department, but notes that in terms of priorities, the projected budget does not show any reductions.

373

Sen. Metsger

Asks if the $8-9 million in additional debt service is itemized in the proposed budget.

386

Chris Warner

Responds that those dollars are part of the Governor’s recommended budget.

395

Sen. Metsger

Stresses that the funding investments must connect in the “overall scheme of things,” and we must ensure that the investments have “connectivity.”

TAPE 2, A

010

Bruce Warner

Agrees, and notes the important role that the different departments and stakeholder groups will have in generating input in the selection of projects. Summarizes the investments in short-line railroads.

024

Chair Verger

Comments on the importance of the development of a particular rail spur.

028

Sen. Bruce Starr

Asks about the source of the $8 million for rail investment approved in the 2003 session.

035

Bruce Warner

Answers that the source was lottery-backed bonds.

039

Sen. Bruce Starr

Asks whether these were direct grants or a revolving loan program.

041

Bruce Warner

Responds that the funds were grants that, in many cases, leveraged money from the short-line railroads.

043

Sen. Starr

Asks if these funds were with the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB), and whether the ConnectOregon proposal would also be housed within this fund.

048

Bruce Warner

Responds affirmatively.

049

Sen. Prozanski

Wants clarification on what kinds of rail projects would be proposed to address the lack of side tracks in the Willamette Valley.

053

Bruce Warner

Answers that those are the kinds of projects that would be forwarded for consideration. Notes that the purpose is to both move goods and provide services.

058

Sen. Prozanski

Asks whether the proposed legislation is written to set up the process for determining projects.

071

Bruce Warner

Notes that decisions will be made in a similar manner as the Transportation Investment Program.

078

Sen. Prozanski

Asks about any breakout that would go to the subprojects noted in the written testimony (EXHIBIT B).

081

Bruce Warner

Responds that the percentage breakdowns have not been determined. Discusses the possible breakdowns with Sen. Prozanski.

098

Chair Verger

Asks about the proposed sunset in 2008, and if the projects would be completed by that date.

103

Bruce Warner

Notes that any projects not completed by the sunset date could still be completed as long as the bonds had been sold and the projects approved and contracted. Adds that the intent is to select projects that can be moved quickly.

113

Chair Verger

Asks where the funding would come from on a project which included a small highway component.

115

Bruce Warner

Answers that the monies could not be used for highway projects, and summarizes the coordination that would be necessary to complete such a project.

126

Sen. Bruce Starr

Asks for an update on the projects listed in the exhibit (EXHIBIT B), page four).

137

Bruce Warner

Notes that he cannot give a comprehensive update, but reviews the selection process for the rail projects.

156

Kelly Taylor

Administrator, Rail Division, ODOT. Adds that the projects in question are in different phases of completion.

174

Pat Egan

State Affairs Manager, Port of Portland (Port). Presents EXHIBIT C and EXHIBIT D, and provides a background on the Port and what they are doing to assist the other ports in the region.

205

Egan

Notes that the Port supports the ConnectOregon proposal.

235

Egan

Reviews a history of the Port.

252

Egan

Speaks to the economic impact of the Port on the region.

278

Egan

Comments on the importance of the Port as a national and international distribution point. Discusses funding considerations for the Port.

310

Egan

States that reinvestment is critical to the success of the Port. Notes that there is a disparity between what other major ports on the west coast receive in property tax revenue.

336

Egan

Summarizes the traffic at Portland International Airport and marine terminals. Stresses the heavy business on automobile imports, and adds that the same opportunities exist for containers.

365

Egan

Reviews the rail lines serving the Portland area, and summarizes port cooperation in the region.

TAPE 1, B

010

Egan

Continues with a summary of the cooperation between ports in the region.

069

Egan

Comments on the technical assistance that the Port provides, including to the Department of Homeland Security (EXHIBIT D).

100

Egan

Summarizes policy and advocacy efforts of the Port, to include their support for ConnectOregon.

122

Ken Armstrong

Oregon Port’s Group. Presents EXHIBIT E, and notes the group’s focus on job creation, economic investment, and multi-modal freight investment.

148

Armstrong

Reviews the statutory powers and authorities of port districts, and gives examples of port cooperative efforts.

182

Armstrong

Summarizes the efforts of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association.

197

Armstrong

Speaks to the importance of dredging projects.

212

Don Mann

General Manager, Port of Newport. Comments on the importance of ports working together.

237

Chair Verger

Asks why the ports are constantly going “begging” to the federal government for funding.

241

Mann

Explains that dredging needs were determined at the time the port districts were formed. Adds that the funding is based on a “cost benefit,” and as the benefits decrease, the federal support for these projects decreases.

275

Mann

Notes that the small coastal ports were the first to see this decrease with the lack of timber movement.

287

Chair Verger

Asks whether diversification would also benefit the ports at the federal level.

294

Mann

Responds that it would be beneficial. Summarizes cooperative efforts on the part of the ports to enhance economic development, to include dredging and cooperative marketing.

331

Mann

Outlines the property tax base for the Port of Newport and other sources of income, to include the recreational marina and recreational vehicle parks.

356

Mann

Notes that the importance of the Port of Portland extends far beyond the local region.

380

Mann

Closes by stating his support for ConnectOregon, and notes that it is important for Oregon and is needed for Oregon ports to survive economically.

384

Chair Verger

Asks what would have the greatest positive impact for the smaller, coastal ports.

400

Mann

Responds that the key thing that would help would be the federal government loosening the strings on the Harbor Maintenance Tax Fund. Explains how the fund works, and adds that this would allow the ports to accomplish the necessary dredging.

432

Armstrong

Notes that there is no “magic bullet.”

 

 

 

TAPE 2, B

001

Armstrong

Continues with description of the different pieces that would make a difference for the ports.

007

Sen. Starr

Asks why there are only 22 ports listed on the exhibit.

010

Armstrong

Responds that the Port of Coquille River is not listed on the exhibit (EXHIBIT C).

014

Egan

Adds that the Port of Malheur has been voted into existence, but they did not vote for the tax increment.

016

Sen. Starr

Asks about the off-shore oil platform construction projects listed under Port Cooperation in the exhibit (EXHIBIT E, page two).

023

Armstrong

Reviews the history of the marketing efforts to go after some of the pieces of off-shore oil platform construction projects.

035

Sen. Starr

Suggests a senate memorial to ask the federal government to respond to port needs as regards the Harbor Maintenance Tax Fund.

049

Chair Verger

Closes the public hearing and adjourns the meeting 4:26 p.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. ConnectOregon, written testimony, Chris Warner, 3 pp
  2. ConnectOregon, written testimony, Bruce A. Warner, 4 pp
  3. ConnectOregon, PowerPoint slide presentation, Pat Egan, 8 pp
  4. ConnectOregon, letter, Pat Egan, 2 pp
  5. ConnectOregon, written testimony, Ken Armstrong, 2 pp