A bond issue for any project seems likely to fail in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, House Speaker T.W. Shannon said Thursday.
“Certainly this year I don't believe that there's a will at this point to do a bond,” Shannon said.
The House last year crushed a proposed $200 million bond issue to pay for repairs and renovations to the state Capitol and other buildings in the Capitol complex. The full House didn't consider a $20 million bond issue for a popular culture museum in downtown Tulsa and a $40 million bond issue to help finish the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in downtown Oklahoma City.
Two years ago, the House didn't take up bond issues for a building for the Veterans Affairs Department and a laboratory for the state medical examiner's office.
Shannon made his comments while announcing the House Republican Caucus's legislative agenda, which included a three-point plan addressing economic development, education changes and infrastructure funding and maintenance. House Republicans outnumber Democrats 72-29.
Shannon, flanked by 26 House Republicans, proposed an eight-year, pay-as-you-go plan to directly fund the upkeep and repair of infrastructure.
“In the past, the model has been to neglect infrastructure to the point of decay and then to take out bonds to repair those needs,” he said.
“We're going to be proposing legislation that will look at a pay-as-you go plan that makes infrastructure needs a priority, not just on roads and bridges, but all state assets, and coming up with a plan,” he said.
Rep. Scott Martin, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, said he will be proposing a measure that will reduce the top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent.
“That's just one of many,” said Martin, R-Norman. “We certainly will have this dialogue throughout session.”
Lawmakers last year discussed several proposals, some of them complicated and most dependent on eliminating business tax credits or certain exemptions and deductions. None passed.
Martin said his plan would cost the state about $40 million in the 2014 fiscal year, which starts July 1. The full year's cost is estimated about $120 million.
It's projected lawmakers will have about $170 million more to appropriate this year compared with last year. Some GOP legislators attribute some of that growth in revenue to a quarter-percent reduction in the state's personal income tax two years ago.
House Republicans also intend to provide additional money for public schools, especially to pay for earlier changes that were not funded by lawmakers. They include better reading instruction and end-of-high-school exams in public schools.
“We want to look at ways to increase accountably for our schools, our teachers and our administrators so we can focus on providing a quality education for our children,” said Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, chairman of the House Common Education Committee.