OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Supreme Court has heard arguments in an attorney’s lawsuit over the issuance of bonds to fund construction of several turnpikes across the state.
Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent said in Tuesday’s hearing that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s power to issue such bonds is unconstitutional, according to the Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/2dMNu80 ).
Fent said the authority for turnpike bonds is flawed because it allows for funding multiple projects, which violates a constitutional that law may include only one subject. He also said it violates the constitution because the authority continues to accumulate bond debt.
“Obviously from the first turnpikes that they built, they’ve gone into perpetuity, into infinity, on debt,” Fent said. “It’s always refunding, repledging old turnpikes to pay for new turnpikes that cannot pay for themselves.”
Authority attorney Jered Davidson said such financing has been common as the turnpike system has expanded over the years. He said there is no legal prohibition against it.
“The authority’s power to issue bonds to fund turnpike projects is well settled and this court has validated prior issuances of bonds of the authority on at least 10 prior occasions,” Davidson said.
Referee Daniel Karim will submit a report to the full court for its opinion on whether the $480 million bond issue can go forward.
The bond issue would pay for a toll road and work on five turnpikes or expressways. The authority voted to increase toll rates in order to pay for the package, which is expected to cost about $935 million.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com