Gov. Brad Henry and legislative leaders have reached an agreement on a $475 million bond package.
The agreement includes money for roads, higher education endowed chairs, a low-water dam project on the Arkansas River in Tulsa, flood control dams in rural Oklahoma, and the Native American Cultural Center in Oklahoma City.
“I want to thank Republican and Democratic legislative leaders for their hard work in drafting this bipartisan package,” said Gov. Henry. “In a difficult budget year, this was the only way to address the state’s most pressing capital needs and keep the promise we made on endowed chairs. By investing now in roads and bridges, flood control dams and other important projects, we will pay a much lower price tag than if we had waited several years when costs will undoubtedly be higher. This approach will help us meet critical needs and save the state money in the long run.”
“Securing our roads and bridges for all Oklahoma families is a critical public safety issue for our state,” said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa. “This plan secures the eight year plan and ensures that our roads will be safe for generations to come. Had we deferred these critical needs it would have only cost the state more in the future.”
“This bipartisan agreement makes a significant investment in Oklahoma’s infrastructure, such as roads and conservation dams. The taxpayers have demanded additional action to fix our state’s dilapidated roads and bridges, and this agreement provides a big shot in the arm to transportation funding,” stated Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. “We are reducing the backlog in state matching funds for endowed chairs, and funding three projects that are important to rural Oklahoma, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City. Taxpayers can be proud that the Legislature is not allowing this bond package to get loaded up with pork projects.”
"We knew when we reached a deal on the budget earlier this session we still had work to do and critical needs to meet," President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, said. "This bond package is a reflection of that work and I believe the important investment to fix our roads and bridges, especially the portion that will be invested in county roads and bridges is a huge step in the right direction. I am also extremely pleased the bond package includes an important investment in higher education and necessary funding to complete the Native American Cultural Center in Oklahoma City."
DETAILS OF THE $475 million bond package include:
ROADS: $300 Million in bonds, trigger removed
- Bonds for roads total $300 million.
- $275 million goes to ODOT’s eight-year maintenance plan for state highways. This funding will be distributed in two separate bond issues.
- $25 million is dedicated to a revolving fund for county roads.
- The debt service on the road bonds will be paid for with a portion of the annual growth in motor vehicle fees. The average annual growth in motor vehicle fees is over 3 percent.
- The agreement also removes the 3 percent growth trigger on the guaranteed money to the department, and raises the cap to a maximum deposit each year at $30 million. Once fully implemented, the plan will invest $300 million a year in Oklahoma’s roads and bridges.
- Front-loading of funds made possible by the issuance of bonds will more than offset their cost because of the anticipated savings in roads construction material costs that have increased by an average of 12 percent annually over the past three years.
- Under the transportation agreement, between FY-08 and FY-16 the ROADS Fund will receive a total of $2.3 billion in appropriations, rather than the approximately $2.1 billion under the historic HB 1176. More significantly, beginning in FY-17 the fund will receive an additional $100 million annually, or $1 billion every ten years.
ENDOWED CHAIRS: $100 Million in bonds + reforms
- A total of $100 million in state matching funds for the endowed chairs program at Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities.
- $6 million goes to endowed chairs at regional universities and colleges.
- The remaining $94 million is split evenly between Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.
- Beginning July 1, 2008, a temporary moratorium will be placed on state matches to the endowed chairs program until the state catches up on its remaining backlog of commitments.
- Reforms to the endowed chairs program include changes to the state match and an annual cap on total state matching funds: Going forward, the state will match 100% of the first $250,000 of a private donation and 25% of any amount above $250,000. The total annual commitment for state matching funds will be capped at $5 million.
OTHER PROJECTS: $75 million
- $25 million for the Oklahoma Conservation Commission to repair and replace flood control dams in rural Oklahoma.
- $25 million for the construction of a low-water dam project on the Arkansas River in Tulsa.
- $25 million for the construction of the Native American Cultural Center in Oklahoma City.