Oklahoma bill would move vehicle tax money from general fund to roads

| 1/19/2005

An Oklahoma state lawmaker has filed legislation to fund much needed road and bridge work in the state.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Newport, R-Ponca City, would redirect vehicle tag money from the state’s general fund and tag it for road repairs and maintenance.

He said the state motor vehicle tax raises about $600 million a year, with 55 percent of it earmarked for education and other spending. Newport said that would not change. The general revenue fund has been getting the remaining 45 percent.

“I want to direct that money back to the Department of Transportation,” he said in a written statement.

Under Newport’s proposal – HB1218 – $60 million of the tag fees would be shifted to the Department of Transportation the first year, $120 million the second year, and it would cap at $180 million.

“The primary goal of this legislation is to adequately finance the continued maintenance and development of the roads and bridges in this state,” Newport said. “If we’re not consistently improving our infrastructure, we are allowing it to decline. You don’t always notice it, but it’s happening.”

Newport offered a similar bill last year but it never made it out of committee. He hopes the new Republican leadership in the Oklahoma Legislature will be more willing to listen this time around.

“This is very doable,” he said. “It’s just a matter of the House and Senate realigning the funds and doing what’s right.”