A transportation measure that will provide millions in much-needed funding for Oklahoma's roadways and bridges passed the Senate today. House Bill 1218, authored by Rep. Jim Newport, R-Ponca City, and Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City, will increase funding for the State Highway and Construction Maintenance Fund to $170 million over a five-year period beginning July 1, 2005. The monies will come from growth in car license tag fees.
"This bill is about safety. Oklahoma's roads and bridges are some of the worst in the nation due to the lack of funding over the years," said Myers. "It is time we put the safety of our friends and families first. This is just plain common sense."
Myers noted that according to a recent online poll conducted by SoonerPoll.com, 70 percent of citizens believe that the car tag revenue should be used for transportation not other things such as education, which has its own funding sources."
Currently, nearly half of the state's required license fee goes into the general revenue fund where it is divided among the various state agencies. HB 1218 will not have any affect on funding for education, county roads or any state service, program or agency.
"HB 1218 is an investment in our future without having to raise taxes or use bond debt," continued Myers. "This year, it has been estimated that the state will have around $400 million in new revenue - what better way to utilize that money than in the safety of our roads and bridges that have been neglected for so long."
The plan will also provide $5 million for the improvement of the state's public transit system and expansion of bus and van services for the elderly and handicapped. These funds will help match federal jobs access funds to assist employers in securing dependable rides to work for those moving from welfare to the workforce.
The measure now moves to conference committee where members from both houses will work on the final version of the bill.