OKLAHOMA TO RECEIVE ADDITIONAL $1 BILLION IN HIGHWAY BILL

50,000 jobs to be created

Washington, D.C.- Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today released the Committee's new formula that will determine how much federal funding states will receive for surface transportation needs over the next 6 years. The improved formula, authored by Chairman Inhofe, will provide an increase of over $1 billion for the State of Oklahoma. The current highway law, set to expire on February 29th, provided Oklahoma $2.5 billion over a six year period. The new formula increases that funding for Oklahoma by over 42% to approximately $3.6 billion over the next 6 years. "With passage of the highway bill we will see a net increase of approximately 50,000 new jobs in Oklahoma in addition to the extra $1 billion in funding for our states infrastructure. The additional $1 billion dollars is not only a huge increase for Oklahoma, but translates directly to quality of life in our state. We are plagued with unsafe bridges and roads that have become a joke to other states. In fact, the Department of Transportation ranks Oklahoma last as having the worst bridges in the United States. We are going to correct this," Inhofe said. This new calculation will also increase Oklahoma's rate of return - the amount of money Oklahoma receives back from the highway trust fund - from 90.5 percent to just over 95 percent. "This highway funding bill is critically important for Oklahoma, as it will provide much needed resources to maintain and improve our state's roads, highways, and bridges by making them safer and more accessible for all of our citizens. One of my top priorities in this process was increasing the rate of return for donor states such as Oklahoma, which put more money into the highway trust fund than they receive back for state highway needs. This bill ensures the average rate of return for Oklahoma will be approximately 95 percent," Inhofe said. In addition to the $1 billion increase in formula funding and job creation, individual transportation projects in Oklahoma will be eligible for additional dollars if deemed "high priority". Inhofe will be chairman of the Senate-House Conference Committee that will determine those "high priority" projects for the nation. The Senate leadership has given Chairman Inhofe time beginning on February 2, 2004 to bring the transportation bill to the floor for debate. ###