Still no real negotiations on transportation tax

The Georgia Senate Thursday ignored a concession from the House on how to pay for transportation improvements in the state.

The Senate disagreed with the House version of House Bill 277 with nary a blink. It sent the bill back to the House in a kind of negotiating ping-pong. With only three legislative days left in the session, time is running out for an agreement. 

On Monday, The Get Georgia Moving coalition will hold a press conference at the Capitol to draw attention to the issue. The coalition consists of 100 groups across the state, including business leaders, state and local government leaders, transit advocates, road builders and environmentalists.

On Wednesday, the House changed HB 277 and showed a willingness to slightly bend its stance on the issue.

The bill calls for a statewide 1 percent sales tax for roads, bridges and other improvements, which is what the House wants. But the new version would allow contiguous counties to band together and tax themselves for transportation projects, which is the regional approach the Senate favors. That would only happen if voters first failed to approve a statewide tax.

Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) characterized what the House did as “their first offer.”

If both sides insist on their stance, then the two chambers would appoint a conference committee to hash out how to pay for transportation improvements. That is where the real deals would be made. So far, no committee has been named.

Last year such a transportation tax proposal failed on the last day of the legislative session. 


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