At a Wednesday afternoon meeting of the House Transportation Committee, Chairman Jay Roberts revealed additional changes made to House Bill 170, the Transportation Funding Act. There are three significant changes from the previous version:
- The sales tax rate for LOST, ELOST, HOST, and MOST taxes will be changed to 1.25% from its current 1% to account for the loss of revenue by not charging these taxes on motor fuel. Once the transportation funding bill goes into effect, these taxes will not be charged on motor fuel.
- SPLOST and ESPLOST taxes will continue as they are until they expire. If these taxes are renewed by voters, then at that point, sales taxes collected on motor fuel must be spent on transportation purposes. The definition of ‘transportation purposes’ as it applies to the use of these taxes is being broadened to account for school system use. It now covers school buses and other items necessary to move students to and from school, plus infrastructure and services needed to provide that transportation.
- The previously proposed six cent excise tax that could be charged by cities and counties after Board of Commissioners approval is no longer in the bill.
Other changes include removing the language specifying that the $200 or $300 annual tax on electric vehicles is dedicated to transit. Chairman Roberts pointed out that Sierra Club lobbyist Neill Herring thought that language might be unconstitutional. As a a result, this appropriation for transit will need to be made in the budget each year.
In the section dealing with the transportation infrastructure bank, the definition of preferred projects has been expended from level 1 and 2 projects to include projects in which local communities have made an investment.
Commenting on the work done on the bill, Roberts said it had always been an ongoing process. He is sure other changes will be made along the way, and in the end, hopefully the House and Senate can come together to pass a bill that will work for Georgia’s future.
After considering several amendments (and rejecting all but one technical amendment to the bill,) it received a “Do Pass” recommendation, and will be sent to the full house for a vote, possibly on Friday.