Tulsa World Editorial: Back to work
March 19, 2010
Posted by: David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov
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Road funds extension Ok'd
By World's Editorial Writers - 3/19/2010
Finally! Congress has passed an extension to a highway funding bill that will vastly improve the abilities of state transportation agencies to get their job done. In Oklahoma's case, the approval will mean millions more each month for road-building projects.
The Senate approved the measure Wednesday by a large margin and now, since it already has been approved by the House, it heads to the president for his signature.
In addition to extending highway funding, the bill also includes payroll tax breaks and other assistance for businesses.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., has been a staunch supporter of enacting a longer extension of highway funding and has been a key and influential player in his role as the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. His junior colleague and fellow Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn, has played the opposite role, continuing his obstinate opposition to funding for such projects despite how important they are to his home state and his constituents.
Inhofe noted that the four short-term extensions that transportation agencies have been subjected to have cost the Oklahoma Department of Transportation in the neighborhood of $15 million a month and have hampered the agency's ability to carry out long-term plans.
"After months of delay, due to politics as usual in Washington, Congress finally passed an extension that will ensure states receive the money they are owed and provide the long-term certainty that is the lifeblood of state and local highway and bridge programs,'' he said.
"Oklahoma, like all states, has been on life support relying on federal funding measured in days rather than years, essentially killing their ability to let contracts as the country approaches the peak of the 2010 construction season,'' he added.
"Further troubling, congressional inaction came in the midst of a recession with construction unemployment approaching 30 percent, costing over 64,000 jobs in February alone.''
Fortunately, the views of leaders such as Inhofe, who understand the value of maintaining and improving one of the nation's most critical assets, prevailed in this instance.
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