Senators call transportation necessary for robust economy

In response to recent criticism, Senator Brian Bingman said there is room in the state budget to fund both transportation and education at adequate levels.  Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee thought so too when they passed Bingman’s House Bill 3342 today with a 16-0 vote.
Bingman, author of roads and bridges bill, says with a $10 billion backlog in maintenance and potential to lose $127.5 million in currently scheduled construction projects, lawmakers have made transportation a priority this year with the passage of HB 3342.
HB 3342 mirrors Bingman’s Senate Bill 1396 that unanimously passed the Senate and redirects existing motor vehicle taxes from the general revenue fund to roads and bridges over a 5 year period.

“Republicans led the push in 2005 and 2006 to increase road funding.  A portion of the plan moved $80 million of our existing motor vehicle fees to roads from general revenue to transportation.  During that same two year period, education funding increased by more than $500 million,” said Bingman.
“In the short term and the long term we can and must do more to fix our roads and bridges, while maintaining education as a top priority,” added Bingman.
Several other lawmakers in the state House and Senate have called for resolve in making transportation a top priority this session, and warned without immediate action the state will experience dramatic cuts in highway and bridge projects slated for repair.
Senate Transportation Committee Co-Chairman Cliff Branan said, “If the Legislature does not act, we stand to lose highway and bridge projects in ODOT’s current eight-year construction plan.”
In numerous statewide polls, voters have expressed overwhelming support for roads and bridges to be a top priority among leading issues.  One poll shows 82% of Oklahomans agreeing that the Legislature should use more of the state’s existing road taxes and fees to repair transportation infrastructure.
Bingman also pointed out the unpredictable nature of growth revenues underscores the need to provide our state roads and bridges with a dedicated revenue source that is more dependable, such as our state motor vehicle fees. 

“In order to have more jobs in Oklahoma, fewer highway fatalities and a more robust economy in our rural and urban areas, we have got to start making transportation a priority,” said Bingman.

Bingman notes that Legislators have an obligation to keep the public safe and it’s time to do the right thing.  “Leadership is about making difficult choices and being the wisest stewards possible of taxpayer money.  We must provide leadership on transportation.  It’s what the people of Oklahoma want.”