I attended a breakfast held yesterday morning by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation with their analysis on the current transportation needs, costs, and funding mechanisms. Many of you may remember I was a bit critical of an Op-Ed written by their Executive Director, Kelly McCutchen a few weeks ago that appeared in the AJC, as the words as written were being used by….one of my favorite “activists” to oppose the House transportation funding proposal which has been working its way through the committee process.
I will agree with Kelly’s rebuttal at the time that 700 words does not allow for a full presentation nor policy discussion. I appreciated the level of detail presented yesterday.
For those who are continuing to use GPPF as a reason to reject the House Bill, may I direct you to these words from their website:
The Transportation Funding Act would convert this mix of taxes into a single state excise tax of 29.2 cents per gallon, based on the average retail price of gasoline in Georgia over the last four years. For reference, that’s more than the 27.5 cents per gallon Georgians paid in 2014, but less than the 29.4 cents per gallon in 2012.
Gas taxes should be dedicated to transportation. The practice of state and local governments diverting these funds to other non-transportation purposes for many years led to the current dilemma; correcting it is neither easy nor simple.
and, directly to the point of those who believe GPPF has presented an opposing view of the House plan:
The House proposal is a good start. It needs adjustments, but few legislative proposals pass as-is. For now, citizens and legislators must ignore the spin from special interest groups on both sides of the debate. Let’s be honest about the tough choices that are required and take the time to get the facts and the plan right.
GPPF believes that the capital needed for statewide transportation improvements will require in excess of $1 Billion per year for the next 30 years. This number is exclusive of maintenance needs which are currently significantly underfunded.
GPPF supports SPLOSTS, Tolls, Managed Lanes, Public Private Partnerships, and increasing bond financing to get started on some of the major projects early. (As do I.). Their presentation this morning made clear that these are in addition to, not replacement of, the $1 Billion per year that would be funded by switching our motor fuels sales taxes to a fixed excise tax. Local money will still be required to do a lot of the major projects. Thus, the need to continue to find flexibility of SPLOSTs (fractional percentages, two or more county regions, lifting the 1% SPLOST cap, extending SPLOST terms to 10 years or longer, local option gas taxes, etc) will be with us for some time if and when the House bill passes.
I appreciate the detail provided in the presentation, and agree that their assessment that the current House bill is a good start. Those who continue to use GPPF as an example of why the House bill should be stopped are either being willfully ignorant or willfully deceptive.