Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Deal brewing on transportation funding?

It looks like the House and Senate have the basics of a potential compromise deal in place on transportation funding.

House and Senate leaders, and particularly House Majority Leader Jerry Keen and Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, have been meeting on the issue. They're basically talking about splitting the difference.

Voters would be asked to approve a half penny sales tax for a statewide transportation plan, like the House wants, and to OK another half penny for regional (or individual county) TSPLOSTs, like the Senate has wanted.

It would take one vote to authorize the two half pennies, then separate votes to actually start charging the second half in individual communities.

"This is middle ground and I think we can get there. ..." Sen. Williams said Monday evening. "I think we can get it out of the General Assembly."

Of course, with the legislature, it could all fall apart. But state Sen. Eric Johnson, a GOP candidate for governor, was in Macon yesterday. He said the pressure for the Republican majority to pass a new transportation funding plan is going to be big-time in the next session.

Bottom line: He said the majority can't afford to not get it done.

"This is not a done deal. ..." said Johnson, adding that he's not actively involved in the negotiations, but is of course aware of them. "But what it does do is re-enforce my prediction that (we'll get it done next session)."

I'm waiting for comment from the House leadership. I'll update when it comes.

UPDATE, From Marshall Guest, spokesman for Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson:
Conversations between the House and the Senate are ongoing to find a transportation funding solution that will address the state's needs.
Thanks, Mr. Speaker, that's helpful. Next up, the speaker's stance on working for the people of Georgia to make this a better place to live. I hear he's for it and thinks Georgia's a really swell state.

UPDATE 2, from the governor's office:
Governor Perdue proposed the split penny concept during the last session as a compromise position.

Since then, SB 200 has passed and we are currently in the midst of creating the state’s first ever strategic transportation plan, which is due by the end of the year. The plan will identify what we can afford with our current resources, and what is possible through additional resources. So, while discussions are certainly continuing on transportation funding, our focus right now is on completing the transportation plan which will lay the foundation for Georgians to clearly understand what value we could receive from any additional resources.


Kevin said...

Big question is what do they do with any additional funds. if it all just goes to building more roads, then we are all still screwed....especially if you leave in an urban area. Given the contributions to the republicans from the 3 largest road builders, my guess is we won't see much in terms of mass transit....so the view of brake light after brake light will just continue.

Lucid Idiocy said...

I would expect the odds that you are right to be somewhere approaching 100 percent.

But, you might very realistically get commuter rail to Lovejoy.

Keich said...

Why would voters want to throw more money into the deep, dark hole of the DOT, which, as this blog showed, either overcharged or does not know what it has done with previous millions?