Wow, what a non-surprise.
The Salem Chamber of Commerce's BIG PLAN to fund improved bus service in Salem by a means other than a payroll tax is dead as the proverbial doornail (yeah, I'm old; people used to say that frequently).
So says local state Representative Bill Post, who got the unenviable job of trying to convince legislators to fulfill the impossible dream of Salem getting a pot of money from State coffers so Cherriots could offer weekend and evening bus service.
HB 4078 (link will take you to the actual bill) is now dead in committee. I had hoped to find a way to responsibly fund transit districts like Salem-Keizer by not raising taxes and incentivizing districts to be more responsible and accountable. The chair, Rep. Caddy McKeown informed me on Friday of last week that there was no funding available from the co chairs of Ways and Means. I was very grateful that she took the time to tell me in person and appreciate the work she did to move it forward to a hearing. Sadly, I will not be able to keep my promise to help those who want stable transit funding in Keizer and other smaller communities.
Again, not a surprise.
There was never more than a very slim chance the state legislature would go along with bailing out Cherriots after the Salem Chamber of Commerce led a nasty special-interest-funded fight against a mass transit payroll tax that other cities in Oregon successfully use to pay for quality bus service.
Last year I attended a City Club talk where the Chamber of Commerce mouthpiece, T.J. Sullivan, said that the Chamber wasn't against more funding for Cherriots, just a payroll tax. Sulllivan said the Chamber of Commerce would work hard to get money from another source for Cherriots. Their vaunted lobbyists would be unleashed at the state capitol to make this happen.
I didn't believe those words then, and I don't believe them now. Bluntly speaking, the Salem Chamber of Commerce is controlled by people who don't give a shit about decent bus service in Salem. They just want to appear to care about the needs of those who use Cherriots, by necessity or choice.
So they dreamed up a mass transit funding bill to introduce that almost certainly wouldn't pass. No matter.
Now the Chamber and Rep. Post can say, "Hey, we tried." Meanwhile, Salem has to endure the embarrassment of having the worst bus service of any state capital west of the Mississippi (so I've been told).