Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Herbert Says Keating Veto Derails Amtrak

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Herbert Says Keating Veto Derails Amtrak

Article excerpt

Gov. Frank Keating's veto of a bill requiring that 0.8 percent of gasoline tax revenues apportioned to the State Transportation Fund be deposited to the Oklahoma Tourism and Passenger Rail Revolving Fund robbed Oklahomans of a means of transportation enjoyed by 48 other states, a state senator said Thursday.

Keating vetoed Senate Bill 848, by Sen. Dave Herbert, D-Midwest City, and Rep. Mike Tyler, D-Sapulpa, which also authorized spending monies in the passenger rail fund to purchase railroad lines. Herbert said the bill would have improved the state's ability to regain high- seed passenger rail service via Amtrak.

In his veto message, the governor said the bill would take funds from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation at a critical time. "The diversion of these transportation funds would be detrimental to the overall statewide strategy endorsed by me and the Legislature for our state highway system," Keating said. Herbert, a key proponent of Oklahoma's passenger rail movement, said the veto signals a lack of vision on the governor's part. "If you have one ounce of conservative blood in your veins, you know now is the time for Oklahoma to invest in rail passenger service, and not wait until it costs a fortune," the senator said. "States all over America are expanding their rail passenger service." Herbert said clean air problems and quality of life for the state's senior citizens are just two reasons Oklahoma should invest in high-speed rail today. "SB 848 simply put the funding for Amtrak service back to Oklahoma at the level that was set by the governor and the Legislature back in 1992," he said. Herbert said state transportation Director Neal McCaleb informed him on two occasions that he had no problem with the bill. The senator said Keating has met with Amtrak officials and claimed to support bringing passenger rail service back to Oklahoma, and the state has funded several feasibility studies on the issue. He also said McCaleb has testified before a special U.S. Senate committee proclaiming that Oklahoma is ready for passenger service. In addition, Herbert said, Sen. …

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