Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oklahoma Transportation Funding is (not so) OK

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill (HB 2247) that will dedicate another $18 million a year in general revenue toward fixing state highway bridges.
The good news is that Oklahoma has in place an aggressive program to rehab or replace structurally deficient bridges, which the added money will accelerate.
The bad news is that the funding doesn’t come from new revenue: it comes from general revenues diverted to the transportation budget from other purposes.  This continues a pattern Oklahoma started a few years ago.  And by the way, Oklahoma has a lower gas tax than every state other than South Carolina, New Jersey, Wyoming, and Alaska.
Now, ODOT does a lot of good work, and I’m sure they’re happy to get the extra funding.  But I have to say that effectively diverting money from education, health, and public safety (the big budget draws in Oklahoma) is a bad bargain in the long run for transportation.

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