In an editorial on January 30th The Oklahoman took a swipe as Senator Brogdon, claiming him to be a populist candidate. Brogdon, one of three Republican candidates for governor, is proposing legislation to prevent the Turnpike Authority from having the ability to raise tolls without legislative approval. The Oklahoman said: “We remind Brogdon and his supporters that tolls not only pay for turnpike maintenance but Highway Patrol services as well. Thus, taxpayers aren’t required to fund maintenance or patrols. That burden goes solely to turnpike users, many of them from out of state.”
I would suggest the Oklahoman doesn’t need to provide that 3rd grade information to Senator Brogdon or any of his supporters, they understand the issues perfectly well. The reminding should go in this case from Brogdon toward the Oklahoman. One of the reasons the Colonists fought our war of Independence was over the issue of “taxation without representation.” To the Oklahoman: When do we hold elections for members of the Turnpike Authority? Those unelected, nameless and faceless bureaucrats have the AUTHORITY to raise the costs, not only on the unemployed, but also on all the rest of us, without any accountability to the citizens. That is akin to “taxation without representation.”
This nameless faceless bunch at the Authority raised the fees last year, suggesting the increases were needed. A reliable source informed me that the Turnpike Authority was still operating in the black without the increase. In addition, based on their budget, it appears that the Turnpike Authority has been turning over several million dollars each year to ODOT. I must ask why and on what authority?
Brogdon is correct to want to bring legislative oversight to the Turnpike Authority, because lawmakers are not nameless faceless bureaucrats. We know who they are and they stand accountable to the citizens every two and four years.
If the Turnpike Authority is wisely using their fees and the revenues are insufficient, then the legislature can approve an increase, but the Authority should have to justify such and not act like an bunch of elitists, accountable to no one. The Oklahoman is wrong on this one and Senator Brogdon is right on again.