We had some fantastic news this past week. Oklahoma is now a Top Ten state for the condition of our bridges. In 2004, we were near last, at 49th in the nation with 1,200 structurally deficient bridges. Without serious investments, we were well on our way to being dead last. That changed beginning in 2005, when a concerted, multi-year effort was made by legislators, governors and our congressional delegation to address these dangerous bridges and improve our highways.
Today we’re down to just 86 highway bridges remaining to be repaired or replaced. Oklahoma’s transportation infrastructure is our number one asset, valued at $69 billion. The investments we are making will benefit our state for years in terms of economic development and safety. I am proud to have been part of that effort.
I’m also proud of the work we’ve done creating the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency, known as LOFT. I’m a member of the bicameral, bipartisan legislative oversight committee for LOFT, which will provide the Legislature with objective data on agency budgets and programs to save the taxpayers money and ensure we are using resources as efficiently as possible.
I want to remind everyone again that we’re in the final weeks for the 2020 U.S. Census. The deadline is September 30. Billions of dollars in federal funding for transportation, education, public safety and other core services is allocated based on our population as determined by the census. If we’re undercounted, we will miss out on much-needed funding.
The data from the census is also used to redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries every 10 years to ensure equitable population distributions. In other words, there are 48 state senate districts. Each district must contain as close to the same number of people as possible. We rely on the census figures for the redistricting process.
The Senate redistricting committee will be charged with the task of creating new boundaries, but there will be public hearings with opportunity to offer comments and even submit proposed maps. No official actions will be taken without public notice.
As of August 12, the national average response rate was 63.4%. For Oklahoma, it was 58%. For the counties in Senate District 20, the response rates were as follows:
Noble County – 58.9%
Pawnee County – 58.5%
Logan County – 63.7%
Kingfisher County – 54.4%
Among various communities in the district, the U.S. Census reported:
Perry – 61.9%
Pawnee – 45.6%
Guthrie – 62.2%
U.S. Census workers are currently following up with some households that have not yet replied, but you can still self-respond. It only takes a few minutes to complete the census, and you can respond by mail, over the phone by calling 1-844-330-2020, or online at 2020census.gov.
If you haven’t replied to the census, please help make sure our towns, counties and state get the resources we need over the next decade. If you have responded, thank you for doing your part.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be your voice in the Oklahoma Senate. Please feel free to contact my Capitol office with any questions or concerns you may have about legislation or other issues impacting our state at 405.521.5628 or at Chuck.Hall@oksenate.gov.