Fuel Tax Increase Bill Headed To Governor’s Desk
OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill that changes which fund money from the fuel tax increase goes into has passed in the state House of Representatives Tuesday.
But it didn't pass without some objections, reports News 9's Aaron Brilbeck.
The bill creates sort of a financial shell game, moving money around to fund education -- and that raises some concerns.
"What assurances do the members of this body and the people of the state of Oklahoma have that 100 percent of the fuel tax increase that's generated by the 3-cent fuel increase and 6-cent diesel will perpetually be used for education?" asked Rep. David Perryman (D-Anadarko).
"I believe it will. It goes into general revenue fund then from general revenue it goes into education department," said Dustin Roberts (R-Durant).
The raise in the fuel tax was pitched as a way to fund the state's $2.9 billion education budget, which includes an average $6,100 raise for teachers. However, the way the bill works, money raised from the increase in the fuel tax would go to the roads and bridges fund, reducing the need for money from the general fund. Then that general fund money could be used to fund education.
"You're telling us that next year, there is no guarantee that this money will be for education to fund the promises that we made? Is that not correct?" asked Rep. Matt Meredith (D-Tahlequah).
Rep. Roberts replied, "I believe that the dollar-for-dollar swap in this will go in general revenue, and this body will fund education."
"I get where you're saying that you believe this body will fund education, but that's not a guarantee that we will because over the last 10 to 12 years, we've cut education more than any other state in the nation," Rep. Merideth said.
An amendment that would have guaranteed the money could only be used for education died.