A new law by the Oklahoma Legislature will raise revenue for education and will not increase funding levels for the state Department of Transportation, but ODOT Secretary Mike Patterson said it will protect the department's funding stream against diversions to other budget areas.
The Legislature completed work March 28 on a revenue package that includes per-gallon tax hikes of 3 cents on gasoline and 6 cents on diesel fuel, part of a series of actions aimed at defusing concerns by teachers and increasing their pay. Gov. Mary Fallin signed it into law the next day.
However, that did not meet all demands by teachers, who also want substantial funding increases for new positions and school supplies, and they went on strike.
Patterson told the Oklahoma Transportation Commission April 2 that while the measure increased state taxes on gasoline and diesel for the first time since 1987, the additional fuel tax revenue won't increase state transportation funding.
Instead, it will take the place of income tax revenue that has been going to ODOT, which will instead be returned to the state's general fund to help fund other areas of government.
"This increase in state revenue is good news for ODOT because $840 million has been diverted from transportation since 2010 to help balance the state's budget," Patterson said. "This new revenue will help free up income tax revenue for other core areas of government like education, health care and public safety."
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