Recently I attended a Legislative Briefing sponsored by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute. The final topic of the day was transportation and what to do in the wake of the TSPLOST rejection. Kelley McCutchen offered the plan which relies on bus rapid transit as an alternative to light rail and alternative routes around Atlanta and across Georgia.
The presentation begins with this:
It is very evident that we must build trust. We believe we need to build trust though Transparency, Reform and Performance. One simple way to increase transparency is to broadcast the GDOT board meetings on the Internet, just as many other state board meetings are made available to the public.
We need reform. We’ve heard many ideas and we’re not sure which are the best. One common complaint is we need to do something about the “alphabet soup of agencies.” We believe there is an opportunity to simplify governance by consolidating some of these agencies.
The gas tax is a short-term solution – not just for us but for every state and for the nation. We have 5-10 years before we have to make some fundamental decisions about how to fund transportation. That window gives us an opportunity to build trust through performance. Actions speak louder than words. The GDOT was #1 and #2 in the nation last year in bringing projects in 1) on time and 2) on or under budget. That’s the kind of performance we need to continue.
So how do we pay for this? GPPF offers several options: changing the gas tax, putting all the gas tax toward transportation (which will require either budget cuts or replacing that revenue in the General fund), toll lanes, and/or sales taxes devoted to transportation.
This is a serious plan worthy of debate. Hopefully nobody came out of the TIA debate thinking the status quo is acceptable. We in the Legislature need to take this issue up and I hope the GPPF plan is part of the discussion.
Below is video of McCutchen’s presentation: