The Republican transportation plan announced yesterday that seeks to increase appropriations to counties across Oklahoma will do so at the risk of Oklahoma school children, Senator Cal Hobson warned today.
“The dollars it will take to increase the county appropriation from 15 percent to 30 percent will have to come from somewhere because those dollars are designated for specific services that Oklahomans count on every single day,” Hobson (D-Lexington) said. “And that will mean less money for education-leaving Oklahoma school children behind.”
Hobson, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the plank of the Republican plan that increases appropriations to counties is full of fatal flaws because it requires county elected officials to apply for funds from a politically appointed commission.
“Democrats in the Senate have long been supporters of funding transportation plans for county roads and bridges.” Hobson said. “It is no secret that Democrats have been the first line of defense against others in the Legislature who sought to diminish the vital role county government plays in growing rural Oklahoma.”
Hobson said county commissioners are elected officials in their own right and know better the transportation needs of a county than does a politically appointed commission.
“I am confident that a county commissioner in Creek County has a better understanding of the dangerous roads and bridges in their own backyard than does a politician or ODOT official in Oklahoma City,” the Senator said. “Their plan to help counties is not a plan at all-it’s a promise-and one that they more than likely won’t be able to keep.”
Hobson also added that the Republican plan has the potential to slow down the process of repairing county roads and bridges and leave rural Oklahoma in the dust.
“Anytime you politicize the process of a transportation plan, you are asking for a disaster,” Hobson said. “By requiring county elected officials to apply for funds from a politically appointed commission, Oklahomans will see a biased selection of roads and bridges being repaired for political gain, and that is just plain wrong.”
“Senate Democrats will continue to support plans to beef up dollars for repairing Oklahoma’s crumbling roads and bridges-but not on the backs of Oklahoma school children,” he said.