OKLAHOMA CITY - State Senator Jeff Rabon (D-Hugo) announced a plan today to give county infrastructures an incredible boost.
Rabon is filing a bill for the 1998 Legislative Session that for one year would triple the state dollars county governments use for country road improvements.
"I am proposing a one-time allocation of Oklahoma's unobligated 1998 growth revenue for the purpose of improving our county roads," said Senator Rabon.
Rabon's legislation calls for creating a "county road fund" for the equal disbursement of the road improvement moneys. Those funds would be the amount left over from fiscal year 1998's growth revenue after the money already dedicated to last year's $1 billion road plan is used.
"I realize that much of the growth revenues have already been spoken for," said Senator Rabon. "However, county road improvements are critical for the people I represent."
"Last year everyone from the Governor on down agreed that transportation infrastructure was a top priority," Senator Rabon continued. "Without some form of additional funding for the construction and up-keep of these roads, rural taxpayers will be left behind."
Senator Rabon's measure is already gaining support among those who advocate county issues. Oklahoma Association of County Commissioners' Transportation Director Mike Talley indicates there is a great need for county road improvements across the state.
"County roads are the framework of rural Oklahoma's transportation system," said Talley. "These roads provide the means for industry to deliver raw materials, for mail to be delivered, and for children to go to school. "If not for our county road infrastructure, there would be no transportation in many parts of our state."
The State Equalization Board estimates $160 million in growth revenue for the year. $51 million is already earmarked for last year's massive road bill, leaving $109 million for Rabon's plan.
Counties are allocated about $45 million a year for road improvements. Rabon's proposal would triple the funding for such improvements.
"I know that for some in the Legislature this measure will seem to be asking too much," added Senator Rabon. "But it is not too much to ask when you consider that the very livelihood of many rural citizens depend on the condition of their country road system. My hope is that this bill will not be summarily dismissed, but rather receive a just and fair hearing from my colleagues."- 30 -