Burdick, Hass to shape decision on TriMet pass subsidies

burdickThe key players in the Oregon legislature’s decision whether or not to end free TriMet passes for high schoolers at Portland Public Schools and a 30% subsidy for employers that subsidize TriMet passes are both in the state Senate, a TriMet lobbyist said Friday.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Southwest Portland) and Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), both of whom sit on the legislature’s Joint Tax Credits Committee, will have great influence over the survival of both programs, said Aaron Deas.

hassDeas said there are "indicators that folks are moving" toward renewal in the state House, Deas said, among legislators such as Rep. Tobias Read. The programs – I wrote about the student passes in our May cover story, posted online this afternoon – are funded indirectly through the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit.

"They’re thinking positively on the House side," said Deas, who supports renewing the programs. "On the Senate side, it’s a little different story."

Kate Grosswiler, a legislative assistant for Burdick, said the senator said she "doesn’t know about" a possible plan to save YouthPass. Burdick, who Deas and others have described as a strong supporter of the YouthPass program, may be unwilling to support other measures in House Bill 2414, the bill in question. She co-chairs the tax committee.

Hass sits on the tax committee and also chairs the Senate committee that oversees education. It’s sometimes been suggested that PPS’s free passes for high schoolers should be funded directly with education dollars rather than through an indirect tax credit, which raises the program’s cost.

This week the Multnomah Youth Commission, which worked to create YouthPass  in 2009, mailed yellow fliers to thousands of PPS students with money from Mayor Sam Adams‘s office.  The fliers urged families to contact legislators in support of the YouthPass.

comments powered by Disqus