Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said today that the legislature will probably address transportation funding this year.
My question is: Does that put Cagle at odds with Gov. Sonny Perdue, who last week said the DOT needs to be fixed before it gets any new revenue sources? That would be interesting, because thus far in his term Cagle has played the part of peacemaker and statesman to Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson's pistols-at-dawn, shoot-from-the-hip style, and the governor's Montgomery Burns like plan of slow and painful retribution.
Hey, I don't make up the archetypes. Wait, I guess I just did. That's pretty inappropriate. And they're not even particularly clever.
At any rate, the perception has been that Cagle and the Senate have largely sided with the governor, with Cagle acting as a go between at times for the governor and the speaker. Note the word perception. I have no idea what goes on between these three men behind closed doors, and neither do most reporters. Maybe the speaker and governor get together and do puzzles, I just don't know.
Any way, last week during the Macon stop of the GOP Unity Tour, with Cagle and Richardson by his side, Perdue:
... said he doesn't think proposals for new taxes to fund transportation projects - a major issue as the session opens - stand much chance right now. He recently backed a new head commissioner at the Georgia Department of Transportation, and she has blasted the department over inefficiencies. The governor said taxpayers need to know they're getting good value before politicians ask for more money.
Asked specifically if that meant proposals to raise sales taxes - whether statewide or just in the Atlanta area to help congestion there - are dead for this session, Perdue didn't get specific. But he said, "I don't think we're prepared," and expressed strong support for the private financing of roads through public-private partnerships.
What I didn't put into that story is that, when I asked Perdue specifically whether that means no new transportation taxes this session, he said he felt he'd already answered that question. He didn't seem particularly put out by the question, just said he'd already answered it, which I took to mean: Hell yes that's what I meant, Travis.
So if the House and Senate can come together on a new tax plan for the DOT, will Perdue veto it? And would the House and Senate work together to override? And would that break the perceived Perdue-Cagle alliance that the insiders suggest was in play on the NRA's gun bill? Who knows.
CORRECTION and UPDATE: I keep making this mistake. Resolutions like this one (calling for a new tax for transportation) wouldn't go to the governor for a potential veto because they are calls for constitutional amendments via statewide referendum. Of course, the governor would still have sway over this, but not the opportunity to veto. Also, it would take a pretty long time for a referendum to be held and collections to start, so there's wiggle room in the timetable.