Two years ago, state Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, was at the heart of a tale of government — both charming and frustrating.
McLane, then a freshman in the Legislature on the budget committee, had found a government program he thought surely must be changed or killed.
The state was plunking down millions on a “Drive Less. Save More” campaign.
It’s an advertising effort to convince Oregon drivers that if they drive less — brace yourself for the headsmacking insight — they could save money.
The Oregon Department of Transportation’s campaign offers information most Oregonians already know. Have you ever thought of riding your bike to work? The campaign points out to people that they could also walk or they could carpool.
And, to make it even more unimpressive, it tackles these issues in depth. On biking, there’s a detailed explanation of different kinds of bikes. Did you know there are mountain bikes, road bikes, electric bikes, folding bikes, commuter bikes, bikes with one gear and bikes with multiple gears? Without this state-supported website, how would Oregonians ever know?
The message and the purpose of the program is not devoid of merit. It has ways for people to link up to carpools. And if the state keeps thumping on a message about transportation alternatives, it may help push people to take advantage of them.
McLane’s point was about priorities. He saw some value in the “Drive Less. Save More” campaign. But he thought the money for the program could be better spent, instead, on programs such as helping seniors and the disabled get transportation they need to get to the doctor.
In the end, McLane won a partial victory. The program was kept alive, but it was spending less on uninsightful billboards and more on helping commuters connect to carpools.
McLane told us he is going to take the program on again this session. We hope he has more luck.