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Road coalition and legislative leaders call for protecting road funds

Road coalition and legislative leaders call for protecting road funds

News Release

Preserving road funding and opposition to StateQuestion 744 top concern for coalition

OKLAHOMA CITY – (March 29) The Transportation Revenues Used Strictly ForTransportation (TRUST) road and bridge coalition and elected officials at theState Capitol, today, voiced their support to preserve Oklahoma’s road andbridge funding for Fiscal Year 2011.

House Speaker, Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, and Senate President Pro Tem, Glenn Coffee,R-Oklahoma City, opened with remarks advocating the importance of fundingtransportation infrastructure as a priority of state government even indifficult budget times. Also inattendance were numerous state representatives and senators, as well as membersof TRUST, all participating to show the importance of good roads and bridges inrural and urban Oklahoma.

“Roads and bridges are the artery system of our state's economy.And that's why as a legislative body, we have made it a top priority tosignificantly increase funding over the last four years. These effortshave begun to reverse decades of neglect, however, we still have tremendousneeds. By continuing our focus and commitment to transportationinfrastructure, we are positioning the state to grow and make ourselves moreattractive to business outside the state. Investment in roads and bridges trulyadds value to our state. That is why I strongly support road and bridge fundingbeing treated as a top priority as we continue to craft a budget for2011," said Benge.

Pro Tem Coffee said, “In addition to the economic impact of good roads andbridges, they are also a matter of public safety. Since the additional funding provided by the legislature, wehave been able to do things like reduce crossover fatalities with additionalmedian barriers and rehabilitate more than 400 bad bridges across thestate. We cannot take a step backfrom that kind of progress.

“Senate leadership stands with our colleagues in the Housein saying that in these difficult budget times we must recognize there are corefunctions of state government that must be protected – transportation isdefinitely one of those areas,” said Coffee.

Members from the TRUST coalition then expressed gratitude for the leadershipshown by the governor and legislature to increase funds. They went on to urge members of thelegislature that in the current budget environment everything should be done tokeep funding to a level where no planned maintenance or construction projectswould be delayed.

Neal McCaleb, former state secretary of transportation anddirector of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, who serves as president of TRUSTadded, “In this economy we must hold fast to the understanding that buildingand maintaining roads is a vital function of state government. It is essential to spur economicdevelopment and grow jobs in rural and metropolitan areas of the state.”

Kell Kelly, president of SpiritBank and TRUST co-chairmanadded, “We must be innovative and examine all possible funding optionsavailable to keep our current commitment to transportation infrastructure.”

In addition to state highway systems, TRUST also voicedconcern that municipal and county road systems are in dire need of all plannedfunding and urged the legislature to continue treating them as a top considerationas well.

In discussing their 2010 legislative agenda, TRUST stateddefeat of State Question 744 would be vital to protecting transportationinterests. The coalition cited apresentation given to the State House Appropriations & Budget Committee,chaired by Rep. Ken Miller, R-Edmond, last fall that showed the anticipatedeffects of SQ 744 should it pass would be an immediate $42 million cut to thedepartment of transportation, which over the life of the current constructionwork plan would total $395 million in lost funding.


The coalition explained that SQ 744 would impose aconstitutional mandate that would require spending levels to be raised to the"per pupil average” of surrounding states, regardless of Oklahoma’seconomic health. It is estimatedthis would cost Oklahoma taxpayers an additional $850 million during thenation’s worst economic recession in decades.

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Since 2005, TRUST has grown into a diverse coalition of more than 120organizations statewide that includes bankers, petroleum marketers, energyproducers, agri-business, chambers of commerce, public safety groups, concernedcitizens, elected officials and highway industries. The group is focused solelyon issues of road and bridge funding to further Oklahoma’s infrastructure. TRUST engages in ongoing publicrelations efforts, grassroots campaigns, and paid media campaigns that advocatepublic policy goals, as well as educate elected officials and the public on theimportance of transportation funding.To learn more visit www.RestoreTRUST.org.

RestoreTRUST.org

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