Full text of press release from Governor Deal today re transportation

From the Governor’s office:

Deal: We’ll reprioritize on transportation

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gov. Nathan Deal today reiterated his commitment to working on Georgia’s transportation mobility using existing resources.

“The voters of Georgia have spoken, and I will continue to do what I have done since I became governor: Work in consultation with state transportation leaders, legislators and local officials to establish our priority projects. There will be belt-tightening. It’s certainly disappointing that we won’t have the resources to accomplish all the projects needed to get Georgians moving quicker, but it does force state officials, including myself, to focus all our attention on our most pressing needs. For example, TSPLOST contained $600 million to rebuild the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange. We will face significant challenges in that corridor if that doesn’t get fixed, particularly after the tolls come down and volume increases. We’ll have a ‘need to do’ Transportation Improvement Program list, but not a ‘want to do’ list. In addition to tight state budgets, we’re also facing a significant reduction in federal funds so tough choices await.

“On public transportation, yesterday’s vote slams the door on further expansion of our rail network any time soon. Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates.

“The referendum passed in three regions, and I think those regions will see great returns on their investment. Under the law, these regions will also receive a 90 percent match for local transportation projects, meaning they will only have to put up 10 percent from local funds. The law requires a 70-30 split in the regions that didn’t pass it.

“As governor, I aim to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business and improving our transportation infrastructure is a major part of that effort. Yesterday’s vote wasn’t an end of the discussion; it’s a transition point. We have much to do, and I’ll work with state and local officials to direct our limited resources to the most important projects.”


    • Scott65 says:

      Or the NAACP…they could have had some (225 million)…now they will have none…and none for quite a while it seems

  1. dsean says:

    “On public transportation, yesterday’s vote slams the door on further expansion of our rail network any time soon. Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates.”

    Aren’t those operations restricted by the state legislature?

    • Total bullsh*t. A non-binding Marta referendum in 2008 in the Gwinnett primary received 47%. T-SPLOST received 29%.

      Marta, by definition – 100% transit. TSPLOST, about 50/50. Which one did the voters like more?

    • Self_Made says:

      “On public transportation, yesterday’s vote slams the door on further expansion of our rail network any time soon. Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates.”

      Sorry to repeat…but once again, those who pay nothing in continually malign and now want to destroy that which they didn’t build.

  2. Daddy Got A Gun says:

    MARTA needs to have its management replaced with new leaders or even better, with an outsourced solution like CH2MHill. There is no good reason why MARTA can’t afford to pay for the basic elements of its operations such as escalators and tunnel maintenance.

    I’ll bet if you competitively bid the management and operations of MARTA, its 226M O&M and Administrative budget could be reduced by 30%, which is nearly 70M/year. Those savings would pay for all of the “rehabilitation” work that MARTA had included in TSPLOST in 7 years.

    • wicker says:

      People who don’t pay a dime into MARTA shouldn’t have any say into how it is run. That goes for the governor, the legislature and the suburbanite backseat drivers.

      Let’s say Fulton-DeKalb cut the governor and legislature a deal. You get full control of MARTA. In return, A) the MARTA tax that Fulton and DeKalb pay are ended and B) you buy MARTA – the land, the facilities, the tracks, the equipment – from Fulton and DeKalb. Otherwise, it is one group telling another group what to do with that second group’s money and property. It is ironic: the same conservatives who hate it when the federal government comes in and pushes the states around want the state to step in and take control over Fulton-DeKalb tax revenue and property. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If the guys under the golden dome decide that MARTA is important to the region but its current management isn’t up to the job, then let them stand behind their convictions with their cash. End the MARTA tax and buy MARTA from its current owners lock, stock and barrel. I don’t see a downside.

      • Daddy Got A Gun says:

        I wasn’t around or involved in the negotiations that lead to the 50% capital requirement BUT based on MARTA’s need for more capital to replace the platform lighting and communications infrastructure that was in TSPLOST, I’d say someone in the Legislature knew what they were doing.

        If given a chance MARTA would spend all of its money on daily operations while ignoring the long term needs of the system. That 50% rule has protected the system from becoming run down and protected the taxpayers of Fulton and Dekalb who would have to bailout MARTA when the axles of the trains fell off.

        I’d say that any deal that reduces the required capital spending level has to come with a complete management replacement. Otherwise, MARTA management will piss away the extra money on retreats to Hawaii while the system becomes broken, rusted, and unsafe.

        I know you bristle at rules set by the Legislature about how your government spends sales tax money, BUT that is the Legislatures job. They tell every other county how to spend sales tax money and put limits on tax rates.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          You make some good points as why should the State Legislature completely remove the capital requirement if MARTA can’t even afford capital expenses with the 50% of the money that it is required to put aside for those capital expenses.

          MARTA’s problem is not the 50% of its sales tax revenue that it is required to put aside for capital expenses, MARTA’s main problem is that it does not take in enough revenues, specifically at the farebox where the revenues taken in are not subject to the 50/50 restrictions imposed by the Legislature on sales tax revenues.

    • zedsmith says:

      that went so well for Atlanta when they privatized their water department and their parking, didn’t it?

  3. Joseph says:

    My thoughts are that the 3 regions that passed it (including mine – Columbus, unfortunately) are about to pay a dear price – all were regions far-removed from the Atlanta-area. With the latest round of redistricting, we saw the switch in the Legislature of being primarily comprised of non-Atlanta areas to being primarily Atlanta-area representation.

    With the Governor’s message, we see that there are in-fact vital transportation projects necessary around Atlanta. The “tick and carrot of T-SPLOST passage was the State-funding match. We passed it in Columbus, so we get our match, Atlanta did not – so supposedly they will not. BUT – as has been pointed out, Atlanta needs to money to do very necessary work, Atlanta controls the Legislature, it stands to reason that the General Assembly will “correct” the funding problem for Atlanta by still appropriating the necessary money to complete the projects.

    So, while I hate to use the phrase “that’s not fair” – what I envision happening certainly isn’t doing right by the outlying regions that did pass the TSPLOST.

    Now, I hope that I am wrong in my assumptions and maybe someone can correct me that the TSPLOST enabling-legislation would prevent this, but with those that I have spoken – this is a very real possibility.

    Thansk for my moment to rant…

    • Rambler1414 says:

      “Atlanta controls the Legislature”

      Really? They do?
      Then why haven’t they created Milton County yet? (Answer: Because they didn’t have the votes from Rural GA Legislators)
      Why was TSPLOST a regional vote instead of statewide? (Answer: Because they didn’t have the votes from Rural GA Legislators)

      • Joseph says:

        Rambler – Self_Made is probably right, down here – when we say Atlanta, we refer to the entire Metro area. That is what I was implying about Atlanta controlling the Capitol, the majority of the representation now comes from the Atlanta Metro Area. On the flip side, it seems like those inside Metro Atlanta consider anything outside of the Metro “rural”. The Columbus-region, which extends into Alabama as well, has over 500,000 people, unfortunately our influence is deprecated because we are split across a state line.

        I have no clue about Milton County – I would assume that is a divide among the Urban Atlanta delegation and the Suburban Atlanta delegations.

        Regarding T-SPLOST, I believe the intent has always been to punt the T-SPLOST to the voters – look at the parsing of words by elected officials attempting to side-step the Norquist Pledge (which I should say – my comment is not a defense of the pledge). The regions were created to maximize the ability of the tax to pass in each region, I don’t believe it had to do with the “rural” Legislators not wanting it – if that’s the case, they would have shut it down regionalized or not.

    • Self_Made says:

      Joseph, I know that down in Columbus there is probably no distinction between “Atlanta” and “metropolitan Atlanta”, but the Atlanta that most “needs to money to do very necessary work” isn’t going to get any favors from the state government. That’s what defeating TSPLOST here was about. But you’re right…some people will still get all the projects they need with no additional taxes and others will go from minimal investment to none at all…and still paying taxes.

  4. Scott65 says:

    Its very disheartening to hear that we will not expand rail. We fall farther and farther behind. Houston is constructing 3 new rail lines currently. Charlotte is investing in rail. Dallas, Miami, Orlando…what the hell is wrong with us. Sounds like the governor is feeling a little vindictive

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      What really sticks out is that fanatically car-crazed Houston is massively expanding their light rail system after almost literally attempting to pave over every last square inch of land and then just literally exhausting their appetite for roadbuilding just a few short years ago as Houston is about as auto-overdependent of a town as one can get as Houston just recently widened a stretch of freeway to 26 lanes.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Governor Deal is not feeling vindictive, he is just trying to survive politically at this point after backing a massively unpopular tax increase proposal that ESPECIALLY did not go over very well in the decisively right-leaning conservative circles that decide statewide elections in the Republican Primary.

      Talking about expanding rail transit of any kind, especially MARTA, which is extremely-despised in the very conservative circles of OTP Suburban and Exurban Metro Atlanta that decide statewide elections, is basically a non-starter with a very conservative right-leaning audience that could give a hoot about how much rail Dallas, Houston or Charlotte is building.

  5. Bull Moose says:

    The problem is that the solution from the beginning was to just flood DOT with new money to address the transportation problems across the state. That’s an unworkable solution.

    DOT itself needs a complete overhaul and restructuring – from the people that the legislators elect to be on the Board to the type of people that lead the organization.

    Once DOT has been gutted and rebuilt – and you can ensure it can efficiently and effectively deliver on projects in a timely manner – then and only then do you ask the voters for more money.

    And as far as money goes, instead of adding a $.01 – I’d look at repurposing one of the existing pennies from SPLOST or LOST.

    All this can be done if our legislators have the courage to act.

  6. Bill Dawers says:

    I’m by no means an expert on Atlanta transportation/transit issues, but Georgia is near the bottom of the list of states in terms of its commitment to transit. One of my recent posts: http://www.peachpundit.com/2012/07/23/no-surprise-in-new-study-transit-a-low-priority-in-georgia/

    As a longtime student of urban issues generally and of traffic issues specifically, I think it’s pretty obvious that Atlanta is forever (as long as there’s a growing metro population) going to be dealing with induced demand (i.e., build more road capacity and that capacity will be eaten up). The Center for Neighborhood Technology has also done some great research on the costs of housing + transportation that have gone beyond ordinary models of looking at housing costs in isolation (http://htaindex.cnt.org/about.php).

    It seems pretty clear that Atlanta needs a wide range of transportation projects in the works right now, and that transit needs to be a significant part of the mix. If quality of life in the Atlanta metro area continues to deteriorate because of transportation costs and lack of options, the entire state will suffer.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I completely agree, Mr. Dawers.

      Though I think the defeat of the T-SPLOST just may have dealt an extremely severe, if not fatal, blow to Metro Atlanta’s trend of induced demand through roadbuilding as the legislature unintentionally dealt the Atlanta Region (and much of the rest of the state) very severe penalties to road funding by tying it all to the passage of the T-SPLOST, including the penalty that requires local governments to pay three times the amount that they were paying before by paying a 30% match to state funds instead of the 10% match as before.

  7. Bob Loblaw says:

    @ Rambler1414:

    In ’09, the House passed a statewide referendum for a 1% sales tax with no exemptions for a project list placed into the bill three times with more than 2/3 support. It wasn’t “rural legislators,” it was the Lt. Governor and Sen. Leadership, that was opposed.

  8. Gacitizen says:

    Yeah I think that the Gov’s “we’ll do less with less” strategy is surprising those who opposed the TSPLOST. Instead of a discussion of alternatives, now we get what we’ve always had except with 8% less funding from the federal highway folks.

    • Harry says:

      Less is more.

      I’d rather keep a few hundred every year of sales tax in my pocket and let them solve real problems which aren’t so expensive to fix, for example synchronized traffic signals. Why can’t they tackle that?

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Which basically means that we get 8% less rockbottom transportation funding than before.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      But we’ll make up for it with superior GOP management. Oh, wait, we’re in our 8th year of that superior management.

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