Bill Gives Money to Schools, but Takes From Roads

Apr 7, 2014

  The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is raising concerns about a bill heading to the full Senate to take money away from road and bridge projects.

An amended piece of legislation would move the money to common education.

An amendment to House Bill 2642 takes half of the nearly $60 million which would have gone every year to ODOT and gives it to Common Education.

ODOT Director Mike Patterson says while the lack of funding won’t impact work on structurally deficient bridges there are a couple of Oklahoma City projects which could see delays.

“I-240 and I-35, that huge interchange that needs to be reconstructed. We’re currently working on I-235 and I-44. Something out of that might have to slide.”

Originally HB 2642 just provided money off the top of general revenue to go to education, but it was amended by Senator Jim Halligan.

The Stillwater Republican says it would be irresponsible to take extra funding while facing a nearly $170 million shortfall.

“For us to advance a bill where we don’t have any  funding source I think is not good policy on our part. If we really believe in something we ought to say how we’re going to fund it, so this begins the discussion.”

If HB 2642 passes the Senate it heads back to the House where representatives could accept the Senate amendments or reject them returning the bill to its original form and sending it to conference committee.

Halligan’s amendment also requires schools to increase one instructional day for every 60-million dollars acquired.