from The Oklahoman

A group that supports state highways and bridges said Friday its main goal is to make sure lawmakers keep budget cuts to the state Transportation Department minimal. Revenues are more than 20 percent below estimates and the Transportation Department, as did most state agencies, received a 7.5 percent across-the-board cut for the 2010 fiscal year. The cut for the Transportation Department amounted to about $15 million; the Transportation Revenues Used Strictly for Transportation coalition said that critical projects would suffer if the budget were cut more. Lawmakers will have about $1.2 billion less to spend this session than last year. Former Gov. Frank Keating, the group’s co-chairman, said the Legislature has provided significant investments since 2006, but it is imperative that funds not be derailed. The group also opposes State Question 744, which is scheduled to be on November’s ballot. The proposal would require spending to be raised to the per-pupil average of surrounding states; approval would divert an estimated $850 million to public schools from other state agencies.