A transportation bill
that would fund much-needed road and bridgework in Oklahoma without raising
taxes has passed the state House.
House lawmakers voted
95-5 March 16 for the funding plan 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.
officials have said the state’s highway system includes 135 bridges more than
80 years old. About 25 percent of the state’s more than 12,000 miles of
highways are inadequate and need to be rehabilitated or replaced.
“This plan goes the
extra mile, literally,” House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, said in a
recent statement. “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 remaining 45 percent goes to the general
revenue fund for non-transportation needs.
The funding measure,
sponsored by Rep. Jim Newport, R-Ponca City, would direct the funds back to the
Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
questioned whether money could be taken from general revenue without affecting
other spending priorities.
Newport said new tax
revenue from economic growth would replenish the fund and no money would be
taken from dedicated sources.
“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 in a
statement. “Not one red cent is going to be taken away from education. Nobody’s
going to suffer a loss.”
HB1218 has been
forwarded to the Senate for consideration.