The State of Oregon invested in a state employee bus pass program until the Great Recession when legislators facing huge budget holes eliminated funding for the program. The result was a 10-year waiting list for state employee parking spots and 1,200 state employees scrambling to find affordable transportation options. Working on behalf of Salem-Keizer Transit, which issued the bus passes, CFM labored to restart the program.
Despite a strong push, funding to restart the state employee bus pass program failed to materialize during the 2015 legislative session. One factor was a local ballot measure put forward by Salem-Keizer Transit to impose a payroll tax to expand service, which was strongly opposed by the chamber of commerce and was defeated at the polls. The state employee bus pass program also got tied up in political dust-ups over other bills.
After the 2015 session, CFM worked closely with Senate President Peter Courtney, who represents the Salem area, House leadership and key members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee to emphasize the bus pass program’s importance to state employees. CFM asked for and got support to make restarting the program a budget priority.
During the short 2016 session that was marred by partisan wrangling, CFM kept in close touch with key leaders to ensure funding didn’t once again become entangled in legislative politics. CFM maintained daily contact with Courtney and other key players until the very end of the session, which ended abruptly following a political deal.
The final budget bills of the 2016 session contained dedicated funding to restart the state employee bus pass program.
The job is done. CFM will monitor implementation of the program and be prepared to defend its continuation in future legislative sessions.
CFM Senior Public Affairs Associate Dale Penn II represented Salem-Keizer Transit in taking on this challenge. Learn more about Dale and his work here.