Oklahoma lawmaker wants to ensure more state funds for roads

| Monday, September 10, 2007

An Oklahoma state lawmaker wants to make sure that more money is available for roads in the state.

Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, is filing legislation for consideration next year that would ensure road funding is increased by at least $50 million annually.

Liebmann, chairman of the House General Government and Transportation Committee, said the proposal would remove a trigger in Oklahoma law that requires state revenue to grow at least 3 percent before the state Transportation Department receives an annual increase of up to $50 million.

A 2006 law provided for up to $50 million a year for roads and bridges in the state until $200 million in new funding was put together. The 3-percent stipulation led to only $17.5 million being allotted for transportation in the 2008 fiscal year.

Officials with ODOT said another failure to reach the growth figure would have a snowball effect on the agency’s backlog.

Transportation Director Gary Ridley said each passing year makes it more difficult to pay for transportation work. He cited a 45 percent increase in the cost of materials in the past three years, The Journal Record in Oklahoma City reported.

The proposed legislation would require ODOT to get at least $50 million in new funding each year until the $200 million threshold is achieved. The state’s tax collection would have no bearing on the amount.

“Maintenance of roads and bridges is a core function of government and there’s no reason to place an artificial limit on how much we can spend in that area,” Liebmann said in a written statement.

The issue can be brought up during the regular session that convenes in February 2008.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Oklahoma in 2007, click here.