The Oklahoma House sent the Senate a special-session measure on Tuesday to dedicate recent fuel tax increases to road and bridge repairs.
House Bill 1014X specifies revenue from 3 cent gas and 6 cent diesel tax hikes will go into the account for state highway and bridge repair, known as the ROADS Fund. Some Democrats cried foul.
"Everyone — at least on this side of the aisle and, I believe that those in education all across the state — believed that that increase in gas and diesel tax, that increase would perpetually make its way into education and not be hung up in the general revenue fund," said Rep. David Perryman.
Rep. Dustin Roberts said the bill sets up a dollar-for-dollar swap with income tax revenue currently going into that fund.
"Dollar of gas, dollar of diesel goes in, dollar comes out, goes into the general revenue fund. The general revenue then funds education, everywhere else. There’s a guarantee that education will get its funding," Roberts said.
Republicans said tying education funding to a source as volatile as fuel taxes is bad policy.
"As that gas tax goes down, in theory, what should be happening is there should be less driving going on, because gas tax is not a percentage, it’s a set dollar amount in the state of Oklahoma. So, when that collections go down, we’ve got less use on our roads and bridges," said Majority Leader Jon Echols.
HB1014XX maintains a $575 million annual cap on the ROADS Fund. The bill also sends motor vehicle taxes and excess county road funds now going to the general revenue fund to the ROADS Fund.