The State Senate gave final passage Wednesday to legislation addressing the state’s transportation funding needs. Senate Bill 1941, by Sen. Bryce Marlatt, will create the Innovative Funding for Oklahoma Roads Task Force.
“The legislature has made great strides in investing in the state’s transportation infrastructure. There have been several pieces of key legislation over the last four years which are reversing the tide of declining funding for our state roads and bridges,” said Marlatt, vice chair of the Transportation Committee. “However, we still have an $11 billion backlog on deferred road and bridge maintenance that is only growing in cost and size. This is why it’s imperative for us to gather all the key players on this issue and find some new alternatives to our transportation funding problems.”
Marlatt went on to point out that over the last three years, there has been an approximate five percent decline in the state motor fuel tax due to less demand and increased fuel efficiencies in cars. This has resulted in about a $30 million loss in revenues for state roads and bridges.
The task force will study and evaluate innovations, technologies and new methods being employed nationally and by other states to more adequately and equitably fund road and bridge infrastructure, including both new construction and maintenance. In addition, the committee will also discuss proposed reforms to the Federal Highway Law funding formula that encourages states to adopt new funding methods in order to increase their share of federal-aid dollars.
“In order to continue making progress on restoring and expanding our roads and bridges, we must start addressing the fact that we have revenue sources and user fees that aren’t and never will be sufficient enough to fully fund the needs we have in this state,” said Marlatt, R-Woodward. “Across the country, there is innovation occurring in design, building and funding of roads and bridges that is being implemented successfully. I believe in this budget climate it's a good time for us to take a look at our needs statewide and what innovative financing mechanisms may make sense for us to explore as a state.”
SB 1941 now heads to the Governor for his consideration.