The Republican chairman of the Oklahoma House Transportation subcommittee on highways wants to dedicate all revenues from car tags and other vehicle fees to road maintenance, but the Democratic co-chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee said such a move would harm education in the state.
Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Oklahoma City, said a new report on the condition of the nation’s roads shows the need to ensure more tax dollars are used for road repair and maintenance.
The report from TRIP, a transportation research group, entitled “Keep Both Hands on the Wheel: Metro Areas With the Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make Our Roads Smoother,” said Oklahoma City was one of the top 10 metro area with the greatest share of major roads and highways with pavements in poor condition.
“It’s time for our road taxes to start funding road repair,” Thompson said. “It’s a simple concept that the majority of Oklahomans endorse.”
Thompson said some polls show that up to 81% of Oklahoma residents support the proposal.
“Bad roads are an indirect tax on working families,” he said. “It’s time we used the direct road taxes they already pay up front to improve the state’s highways and bridges.”
Thompson’s HB 3342 passed on a 99-to-0 vote last week and was sent to the Senate.
Sen. Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, acknowledged the problem with the state’s roads but was critical of the proposal to divert revenue produced by motor vehicle excise taxes to transportation funding.
“Nearly half of all revenue produced by motor vehicle excise taxes goes into the general revenue fund each year, and diverting that revenue to transportation compromises our ability to adequately fund education, health care, and municipal government,” he said.
Rabon said motor vehicle excise taxes contributed $259.2 million to the general revenue fund in fiscal 2007.