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How Oklahoma's funding for roads and bridges succeeded spectacularly after voters rejected a tax increase overwhelmingly (OPINION)

How Oklahoma's funding for roads and bridges succeeded spectacularly after voters rejected a tax increase overwhelmingly (OPINION)

Despite budget woes, Oklahoma transportation spending has succeeded unlike any other cause

Tulsa World
Apr 29, 2018 Updated Apr 30, 2018
Wayne Greene 

In 2005, a group called Oklahomans for Safe Bridges and Roads tried to convince state voters to raise the state’s gasoline and diesel taxes to pave a lot of bad roads and work on a lot of deficient bridges.

They had a pretty good case. The state had one of the highest rates of structurally deficient bridges in the nation. A third of the state’s 6,728 bridges required immediate repair. More than 25 percent of Oklahoma roads were rated inadequate or critical.

Backed by funding from road contractors, the group proposed State Question 723, which would gradually raise the 14-cent diesel tax and the 17-cent gasoline tax to 22 cents.

SQ 723 failed spectacularly, getting less than 13 percent of the vote. At the time, it was described as the greatest drubbing of any initiative petition in state history.

But as we stand here today, the fuel taxes are about to rise to 20 cents a gallon and by 2020, all the money will be dedicated to road work, and in the time between the overwhelming defeat of SQ 273 and now, more than $4.1 billion in new extra money — income tax money — has gone to fix bad roads and bridges through the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety fund before a penny is appropriated for things like schools, prisons and mental health... FULL ARTICLE

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