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Pressed For Time, Senate Abandons Transportation Package

<p>Senate President Peter Courtney speaks to the public in the rotunda of the capitol building in Salem on Thursday, May 14, 2015.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

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Senate President Peter Courtney speaks to the public in the rotunda of the capitol building in Salem on Thursday, May 14, 2015.

The $343.5 transportation funding package to cover road and transportation updates has been abandoned by Oregon Senate leaders due to the looming end of session deadline.

The propsal was drafted by eight bipartisan lawmakers, known as the "Gang of Eight," and proposed raising millions annually through a 4-cent gas tax increase. However, Gov. Kate Brown said there just wasn't enough time to push the complex package through.

"As yesterday’s hearing demonstrated, both transportation and greenhouse gas emissions reductions are important and complicated policy questions that deserve adequate and focused attention," said Brown in a statement. "We worked hard to find a way to address them as a package, but no solution emerged that accomplished that to the satisfaction of all parties. They should be decoupled and considered separately, thus avoiding the 'my way, or no highway' situation in which we now find ourselves."

As OPB reported, the bill contained a long list of construction projects across the state. The proposal was particularly controversial with environmental groups because it would have repealed a clean fuels requirement that was signed into law earlier this year.

"We made a lot of progress. The votes just aren’t there,” said Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, in a statement. "We’re out of time in this session, but the Senate won’t give up. The needs aren’t going away."

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Lizzy Duffy