Lawmaker “shocked” by reaction to idea
A top Republican state lawmaker who last week floated a controversial proposal to tax bicycles to help pay for the state’s infrastructure needs says he is “a little shocked by the raw nerve I struck.”
“My attempt to start a conversation has been met with hysteria by some and reasonable ideas by others, reflecting a diversity of opinions on the subject that didn’t cut neatly along party or ideological lines,” state Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction wrote Monday on Facebook.
Scott, the assistant majority leader, wrote on the same Facebook page last week that he plans to introduce some sort of bicycle tax in the wake of the Oregon legislature voting this month to levy a flat $15 sales tax on bikes worth more than $200.
Whatever form such a bike tax might take, the suggestion inflamed some in the bicycle community, with cycling advocates already promising to fight the proposal.
“Bicycles are part of the solution for our roads, not the problem,” Bicycle Colorado wrote in a post soliciting donations to fight the proposal.
Scott says the response to his proposal has convinced him more than ever that there needs to be a conversation about taxing bicyclists and that it is “a debate worth having.”
The tax would be a drop in the bucket toward the state’s projected $9 billion in unfunded infrastructure needs over the next decade. The Oregon tax is expected to generate less than $1.4 million a year, according to a state revenue analysis.
Colorado transportation advocates have been trying for years to raise gas or sales taxes to pay for roads, but the efforts have always failed at the legislature due to Republican opposition.