Transportation Group Urges Legislature To Hold Transportation Harmless To Avoid Further Cuts In Federal Road And Bridge Funding
OKLAHOMA CITY - (Oct 28) The head of a statewide transportation advocacy group today, following a legislative task force hearing, urged the Oklahoma Legislature to take into consideration federal requirements surrounding Oklahoma's acceptance of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) transportation dollars, as they prepare for the 2010 legislative session.
Neal McCaleb, former state secretary of transportation and president of the road funding coalition, Transportation Revenues Used Strictly for Transportation (TRUST) said, "When Oklahoma agreed to receive transportation stimulus dollars, it provided a significant shot in the arm to dozens of crucial projects across the state. And thanks to the expert leadership of Secretary Ridley, we have led the nation in timely execution of those projects.
"However, those dollars came with a responsibility and the state's agreement we would not replace planned state funds with one-time stimulus dollars. Now, it is critical we keep that commitment by not cutting state road funding. If we do not, Oklahoma may lose millions in federal road funds."
McCaleb went on to explain when state leaders agreed to accept ARRA transportation dollars, Gov. Henry signed a "Maintenance of Effort Certification" that essentially requires state transportation funding to be held harmless in 2010.
According to Section 1201 of the ARRA, states are required to show they have not decreased planned expenditures during the period of February 17, 2009 to September 30, 2010.
If Oklahoma does cut state road funding, Congress may then block the state from receiving a significant portion of federal road funding via the redistribution of obligation authority at the end of federal fiscal year 2010.
Oklahoma's participation in these funds has provided state roads and bridges with an additional $121 million over the past six years.
McCaleb closed by saying, "We have made tremendous progress in rebuilding our infrastructure thanks to the significant increased investments provided by the state legislature and governor over the last four years. Loss of access to this portion of Oklahoma's share in federal road funding would be a giant step backwards."
Posted on Fri, October 30, 2009