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Opinion: What do I hate more than taxes? Taxes that get passed under the radar.

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority announced an additional increase to our tolls coming in January.

This 2.5% increase is in addition to the 12% raise we had last March, and also in addition to the 2.5% increase that we’re expected to have in 2019. It literally seems as though the OTA just noticed that they hadn’t included a raise for 2018 and decided to stick one in there in order to keep it consistent.

These increases are a part of the Oklahoma Drive Forward Initiative, which people could argue and say that it isn’t really a tax, since it doesn’t affect the State’s budget—but c’mon, guys—it’s a tax in the same way a hunting or fishing license is a tax. Only this one can evidently be changed whenever they see the need.

Some facts for you: Oklahoma has 10 turnpikes with a total of 606 miles across the state. It has 4,342 miles on the National Highway System, according to federal data.

That means that Oklahoma has more miles of toll roads than Texas, at 502. Out of all of the roads in Oklahoma, 14% of them we have to pay to drive on. In fact, the only state with a higher percentage of toll roads is New Hampshire, which is a tiny state that only has 932 miles of roads total.

There’s a lot of talk going on right now about the state of our taxes. People are upset about handwriting being made in the margins of our tax bill (although I’ve been told that’s not that uncommon). But the bigger problem I see is how underhanded it all appears: under the table. In the dark. Without too much public scrutiny.

We’re in a time where transparency is supposed to be a standard that we hold our elected officials to. If we don’t constantly remind them of our insistence that they a) be clear about what they’re doing and b) be clear about why they’re doing it, we can only expect things to get worse.

Micah Choquette
Publisher, Sapulpa Times

Special thanks to Kayla Casper for her help on the toll road data.

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