Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OK House GOP Plots Transportation Funding Bill Improvements

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OK House GOP Plots Transportation Funding Bill Improvements

Article excerpt

State House Republicans on Thursday announced their plan to improve on their previous transportation funding measure. Though the suggested improvement has yet to be introduced as legislation, lawmakers are already asking transportation officials to endorse the plan.

A joint resolution will soon be introduced to create a lockbox on the transportation funding provided by House Bill 1218, by Rep. Jim Newport, R-Ponca City, said Newport and Rep. Mark Liotta, R-Tulsa. HB 1218 would take a greater portion of vehicle fee revenues out of the state's general revenue fund and redirect that money toward road and bridge maintenance.

Scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor Tuesday, HB 1218 would provide nearly $2.5 billion for roads and bridges over the next 15 years. The bill would provide about $17 million for transportation in its first year, said Newport, without raising taxes.

We want to lock these funds in place so never again will the Legislature be able to skirt their duty to take care of Oklahoma's roads and bridges and the families that travel upon them, said Newport.

Rep. Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, called for the state's transportation leaders - particularly Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Gary Ridley - to endorse the plan.

(Ridley) has been a longtime supporter of a lockbox idea, and he's been documented as having said such, said Benge, chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. And I'll go a step further and say that as the director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, we fully anticipate and encourage him to come forward publicly on behalf of not only the governor's office but the state of Oklahoma and the entire agency to join us in this effort.

The Transportation Department is hoping for some sort of protection for its funding, said Terri Angier, director of the department's public affairs division. The department must be able to plan ahead with some certainty in order to improve the condition of the state's roads and bridges. …

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