Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa Lawmakers Call State Highway Plan a `Monster That Will Not Die'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa Lawmakers Call State Highway Plan a `Monster That Will Not Die'

Article excerpt

Two Tulsa lawmakers say that a pending state highway plan is a "monster" that will only add to road-funding inequities across the state.

Rep. Russ Roach, D-Tulsa, and Sen. Penny Williams, D-Tulsa, aimed their criticism at the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (or GARVEE) bond program.

In a Monday letter to Gov. Frank Keating and members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission, they called the program "a monster that will not die."

"It continues to grow in hugeness, but without fairness or any resemblance to financially conservative or prudent practices," Roach and Williams said. "We think it is time to kill the monster before it eats all the highway tax dollars of the state."

"I feel like I'm watching a bad B-rated Japanese movie on late- night TV," said Roach.

He said the cost of the GARVEE bond package has increased from $800 million to $940 million.

Only $22 million of this is earmarked for Tulsa County, Roach noted, although the state's second-largest metropolitan county has about 22 percent of its total population.

Noting that GARVEE bonds were authorized in highway legislation on the final day of the legislative session, they said this language outlined authority for an unspecified amount of bonds to the Contingency Review Board.

The CRB is composed of the governor, speaker of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate.

Nowhere in the presentation or discussions was there ever any mention that the total package would equal close to $1 billion, all to be decided by three individuals, Roach and Williams said.

They also said that in a meeting with Roach and House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry Matlock, D-Garvin, Keating expressed the desire to help correct the inequities against Tulsa and Oklahoma counties.

"Despite having two transportation appointees resign in protest to the GARVEE package, no discernible progress has been made," Roach and Williams said. …

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