The state Senate has
approved a transportation bill intended to fund much-needed road and bridgework
in Oklahoma. The measure, which the House previously passed, must go through
another round of talks in both chambers before heading to Gov. Brad Henry for
his final OK.
funding plan would shift $35 million in vehicle tag money the first year and
$170 million after five years from the state’s general fund and earmark it for
road repairs and maintenance for the next 15 years.
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
highway agency receives about $200 million annually from state fuel taxes, The
Despite passage from
the Senate April 21, the measure – HB1218 – is headed for a House-Senate
conference committee because Senate Democrats have their own idea for funding
plan is a pay-as-you-go approach that would commit $102 million annually to the
Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s budget to refurbish bridges and
“By the year 2020,
this plan will allow the Department of Transportation to replace 314 bridges to
repair 552 others,” Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, said in a recent written statement.
“More than 2,000 miles of state highways will be resurfaced and 120 miles of
barriers protecting against crossover accidents will be added to Oklahoma’s
Opponents of the
House plan question whether general fund money specifically dedicated to
schools, counties and cities would be affected.
House Republican Jim
Newport of Ponca City 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 written
statement. “Not one red cent is going to be taken away from education. Nobody’s
going to suffer a loss.”
Corn, author of the
Senate “2020 Plan,” doesn’t buy it.
“We don’t have to
make any unrealistic claims for our plan to work,” he said.