U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said Monday that she’ll use a November ballot measure on a light rail sales tax to gauge the county’s general feeling about paying for light rail on the Columbia River Crossing. The congresswoman’s statement was quickly criticized by the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.
The statement made by Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, referenced Proposition 1, which would increase sales tax to pay in part for operations and maintenance on a light rail extension from Portland to Vancouver as part of the $3.5 billion CRC project. The measure was proposed by C-Tran leaders, and it will go before those living in the C-Tran district only.
“It is unfortunate that the voters have not had the opportunity to weigh in until this far into the planning process, but now that their voices will finally be heard it would be a mistake not to listen,” according to the Herrera Beutler statement. “I will keep fighting at the federal level for a new I-5 bridge, but if Proposition 1 fails, I will oppose any attempt to finance light rail into Clark County that does not win the approval of county voters.”
Chamber President Kelly Parker engaged Herrera Beutler’s office in an informal debate by email on Monday afternoon, knocking the first-term congresswoman about her interpretation of the measure.
“It would appear as though the congresswoman is telling voters they must approve a sales tax increase in order to receive her support for light rail funding,” Parker wrote in an email on Monday afternoon to Herrera Beutler’s office.