Fuel Tax Hike Sought For Roads

  By John Greiner
The Daily Oklahoman / KWTV Channel 9

Regional fuel taxes, per gallon
Colorado: 22 cents gasoline, 22.5 cents diesel
Kansas: 24 cents gasoline, 26 cents diesel
Missouri: 17 cents gasoline and diesel
New Mexico: 17 cents gasoline, 18 cents diesel
Texas: 20 cents gasoline and diesel
Louisiana: 20 cents gasoline and diesel
Arkansas: 21.7 cents gasoline, 22.7 cents diesel
Oklahoma: 17 cents gasoline, 14 cents diesel
Source: State Department of Transportation

A coalition launched a drive Wednesday to raise fuel taxes to 22 cents a
gallon to repair deteriorating highways and bridges it said are creating a crisis
for Oklahomans.

The proposal would avert tragic deaths, said Neal McCaleb, chairman of
Oklahomans for Safe Bridges and Roads.

The proposal would raise Oklahoma's 17-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax to 22
cents over a three-year period. The 14-cent-per-gallon diesel tax would be raised
to 22 cents over four years. If adopted by voters, it also would create a
trust fund or "lock box" for fuel tax revenue so it could not be used for
anything except highways and bridges.

The coalition wants a special election on the issue.

"We have 135 bridges in the state highway system that are over 80 years old,"
McCaleb said.

Of the 6,728 bridges on the state highway system, 481 need to be replaced and
1,116 are in dire need of repair, said McCaleb, who is the former state
transportation secretary. More than 25 percent of the state's 12,266 state highways
and interstate highways are rated inadequate or critical, he said.

The hike would yield an extra $150 million a year, he said.

Dan Case, executive director of the Oklahoma Trucking Association, said his
group hasn't taken a position on this fuel tax. "I know the roads and bridges
need to be fixed. We're all for that," he said. Last year, the association
proposed raising fuel taxes by 3 cents a gallon, he said.

"We think 8 cents is a pretty big jump," Case said.

The coalition has 90 days to collect the necessary signatures to get the
proposal on a ballot. The deadline is Dec. 15.