Subcommitee Moves Substitute Bill to Full Transportation Committee

The Highway Regulations subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee met this afternoon to consider another substitute to House Bill 170, the Transportation Funding Act of 2015. Changes to the bill from its previous version include terminating the $5,000 tax credit for electric vehicles, changing the way counties could charge excise taxes to replace LOST revenue they will lose, and allowing county excise taxes to be used to repay transportation bond debt. No changes were proposed to the 29.2 cent proposed state excise tax rate.

Transportation Committee chairman Jay Roberts outlined the proposed changes to a packed hearing room. Instead of allowing cities and counties each to institute a three cent excise tax by a vote of their governing body, plus another three cents each if approved by citizen referendum, the new proposal allows county commissioners the ability to vote in a six cent countywide gasoline excise tax, which would be split with the cities according to the existing Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) formula, which is based on centerline miles of local roadway within the county or city.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Chairman Roberts stated that he thought this should ease concerns by counties and cities, noting that a six cent excise tax plus additional LMIG funding from the state, plus the ability to move transportation from a county’s existing budget to the excise tax should make up for the loss of revenue from a gasoline sales tax. And, Roberts stated his guiding principle that he was not going to allow sales tax on fuel not to be used for transportation purposes. On whether the proposed statewide excise tax rate of 29.2 cents per gallon would hold Roberts said that he was waiting on the fiscal note, which will describe the amount of money the bill is expected to raise.

By placing the elimination of the $5,000 state tax credit for the purchase or lease of an electric vehicle to the funding bill, the reduction in tax expenditures can provide additional transportation revenue. The change to allow transportation bond repayment as a legitimate use of local excise taxes benefits Forsyth County, which passed a $200 million bond in November that will widen Georgia 400 in that county.

Also speaking at the meeting were representatives from the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, along with several education funding advocates who were concerned about the loss of revenue they would see; something that couldn’t be made up with an excise tax.

In the end, the subcommittee voted to send the bill with a Do Pass recommendation to the full committee, which will meet at 2 PM on Thursday to consider it.

13 comments

  1. blakeage80 says:

    Any word on whether or not it is a tax increase? 🙂

    Also, and this is just first thoughts, I’m not sure I like it being easier to reach the 6% county tax threshold without being able to vote on it as a citizen. Although, I live in Clarke County. Who am I kidding? If the extra 3% can be used to put pedestrian islands and bike lanes on Prince Ave., the measure is a s good as passed.

    • Jon Richards says:

      I’ve heard concerns about the 6% not being being voted on by citizens. Yet, I think the sponsors reason that since this excise tax replaces revenue being lost because the counties/cities will no longer get LOST/HOST money from gas, the voters already ‘approved’ the tax, hence no need for a referendum.

  2. blakeage80 says:

    Yeah, that is probably true in most places. However, I’d rather start at 0% and make them sell 6% than try to convince a government that they can live with a few % less.

  3. chefdavid says:

    Gotta love my Rep explaining on the radio that it is in subcommittee and eventually it will reach the full committee that he is on. Sad when the talk host pointed to an article in the times free press stating that it’s going to the full transportation committee today. I wish somebody would crunch the numbers for my county to see its implications instead of just being against it because of rumors and how things get funded. I guess that somebody will have to be me. I wish I had a copy of the bill to see who sponsored it. The “and others” that is so hard to track down.

  4. polpol says:

    The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Full House Transportation Committee at 2 PM, however that notice has not been posted so it may change. The sponsors are waiting for the fiscal note on the bill so that they can see the revenue implications. You can get a full list of sponsors by contacting the Clerk of the House’ Office. Unfortunately a copy of the revised bill will not be available on-line until after it is adopted by the Committee. The Georgia Municipal Association has a good overview of the impact of the first version on their web site…….while the cash flow has somewhat change, the numbers ought to be still somewhat valid.

    • chefdavid says:

      I just called the clerks office to try and get a copy of the signature of the sponsors. They only list the first six. I got the run around. “It’s in the clerks office.I am told”. Thats who I called… So Im either getting a “I don’t feel like getting that” for you response. Or this bill is such a hot topic they don’t want you to see who all signed it as a sponsor when it got filed. If I was in Atlanta I would have drove to the capital after that response and got it. Anybody down there want to get a copy and post it?

      • gt7348b says:

        I think the clerk’s office is just overwhelmed and understaffed during the session. Having been in the capitol during the session, it is a mad house.

  5. Ellynn says:

    What about ESPLOST revenue lost? It seems only county goverments are covered, not school boards. Is the the state going to increase it budget to include more school contruction and technologoy upgrades to cover the lost of renvue for captial improvemnts?

    Didn’t think so.

    • Charlie says:

      There is no revenue “lost”. The tax base will be lower when a new ESPLOST is proposed, and any construction needs to be planned for accordingly. All existing ESPLOST money is accounted for under this proposal and remains with the local school boards.

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