A five-year transportation plan to fund much-needed road and
bridge work in Oklahoma without raising taxes has been approved by a state
The House Appropriations and Budget Committee voted 10-7
along party lines March 9 to pass a bill that would shift $35 million in
vehicle tag money the first year and $170 million after five years from the
state’s general fund and tag it for road repairs and maintenance.
“This plan goes the extra mile, literally,” said House
Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville. “And instead of raising taxes, we’re simply
putting dollars back where they belong.”
The state motor vehicle tax raises about $600 million a
year, with 55 percent of it earmarked for education and other spending. The
five-year transportation bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Newport, would not change
that. The general revenue fund has been getting the remaining 45 percent.
The Republican funding measure would direct the general
revenue fund back to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
Opponents questioned whether money could be taken from
general revenue without affecting other spending priorities.
“In reality, this is just a smoke screen to say we’ve got a
revenue stream,” Rep. Ray McCarter, D-Marlow, told The Oklahoman.
Newport, R-Ponca City, said new tax revenue from economic
growth would replenish the fund and no money would be taken from dedicated
“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. “Not one red cent is going to be taken away from
education. Nobody’s going to suffer a loss.”
HB1218 has been sent to the GOP-dominated House for