House and Senate leaders meet on transportation bill impasse

House and Senate negotiators met for the first time shortly after 10 a.m. on the  impasse on transportation legislation.

The meeting, announced by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s office, didn’t produce any immediate decisions — except an agreement for another meeting,  probably on Monday or Tuesday.

Both sides were talking positive about reaching an agreement, hopefully before Day 40 of the 40-day legislative session.

The meeting lasted less than an hour, and the bulk of it involved Rep. Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla) going line by line over the changes that the House made to the governor’s original bill.

As background, the transportation funding bill (HB 1218) proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue earlier this year would have divided the state into 12 regions. Each region would have a referendum in 2012 to vote on a 1 percent sales tax for a list of transportation projects within the region.

State leaders agreed generally, but the devil was in the details. By the time the bill passed the House Transportation Committee, so many amendments had so altered it that Perdue no longer supported it, and on March 26, the deadline for legislation to move from one chamber to the other, it was technically dead. However, its ideas still will be considered under different bill numbers.

The same questions that doomed HB 1218 still remain. For one, can lawmakers and Perdue agree on the all-important details, like who defines what areas must stick together in what regions?

But, lawmakers still have on the table transportation legislation that passed both chambers, but in different form, last year. They can use that bill as a vehicle to continue discussions and get around the March 26 crossover deadline.

“The goal of this committee is to find consensus,” said Rep. Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons), the House majority leader and one of three House members serving on the conference committee.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, (R-Chickamauga) said: “We know the bill has been vetted [by House members}. We were waiting to see what y’all passed before we got into it.”

He told a reporter later that he expects Senate negotiators to push for “some adjustments.”

46 comments Add your comment

django

April 8th, 2010
10:28 am

About time!! But then again it might be better to freeze everything till Gov Barnes gets back Perdue’s bound to screw this up

The Chicago Way

April 8th, 2010
10:36 am

Aaron- Any democrats involved in the negotiations?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJCGeorgia. AJCGeorgia said: Breaking: Transportation negotiators meeting now http://bit.ly/8XpEAl [...]

Joseph

April 8th, 2010
10:56 am

It’ll get frozen there, nothing will happen. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Richard J Bishop

April 8th, 2010
11:00 am

Bickering Lawmakers – I want my money back!

Do Something

April 8th, 2010
11:19 am

Do something on transportation this year…or risk losing your jobs! Metro Atlanta will remember your continued inaction year after year when its election time. We need SOMEONE to take a leadership position, make transportation a priority and get us moving again.

Kegger

April 8th, 2010
11:21 am

As long as they are bickering, they don’t increase the sales tax rate… so keep on keeping on.

Miss Mellie

April 8th, 2010
11:34 am

Business leaders statewide need to storm the Capitol and bar anyone from leaving until this is settled, on, and enacted as law. This nonsense has been dragging on for years, and there is no excuse for it.

inside gal

April 8th, 2010
11:40 am

Atlanta needs this sales tax to help save MARTA. It’s time for the state to reimburse us for paying for MARTA.

iconoclast

April 8th, 2010
11:47 am

Georgia doesn’t just need funding (i.e, money), but a complete overhaul of transportation policy (i.e., leadership) to prevent our neighbors to the north, south, and east from being able to compare us with our neighbors to the west.

anti-jeff

April 8th, 2010
11:59 am

iconoclast, that’s so true…

carmikal

April 8th, 2010
12:09 pm

This is what happens when you wait sooooo long to address obvious logistical issues. I don’t see what the big problem is in getting something progressive done. The need to accept the obvious and keep it moving. Look, great tranportation systems like the 1 in NY doesn’t provide the same system for the entire state! That just isn’t feasible or efficient. They should place most of their attention in the Atlanta region along with a line to Macon and possibly Bham. Every other west bubble location can use amtrak. Allow an Amtrak shuttle for those less traveled areas into the Atlanta regions tranportation system. You can’t get from the Bronx or westchester county NY to Albany or Buffalo NY on using the same line. But there are different channels that can get you up there and once you’re there you may use there transportation system. GA should be setup in the same fashion.

Say wha?!

April 8th, 2010
12:15 pm

Our leaders have dithered for so long that we are now neing passed up by the likes of Charlotte in growth and job creation. Good job useless “leaders”!

Bob

April 8th, 2010
12:35 pm

We need a transportation plan that doesn’t act on the “all roads lead to Atlanta” philosophy.

Tom

April 8th, 2010
12:36 pm

About time is right. But what legislative day is it? and they are meeting about transporation. Here goes the same old song and dance. Day 40 comes and they’ll meet till midnight about transporation and not pass anything. give me a break

Josh

April 8th, 2010
12:53 pm

Quick comment for “inside gal”. MARTA is only funded tax-wise by those of us in Fulton and DeKalb Counties. MARTA is the ONLY major metropolitan area transit authority in the nation that does not receive funding from its state. Maybe if the State DID assist MARTA, our system could be more similar to that of D.C., Boston, Portland… but, we all know how little foresight our state has when it comes to transportation based on the past few years.

Daedalus

April 8th, 2010
1:03 pm

Hey Jim — are there any dems on either the House or Senate negotiators for this bill? I had heard that there was not.

If you are a metro Atlanta taxpayer, this bill will take more tax dollars from you to pay for roads in South Georgia and in the mountains because the State DOT will control where the money is spent.

Just like the “solid waste trust fund” the legislature can simply raid the taxes paid by any trdansportation district and use it for any purpose anywhere in the state.

That’s why I will always oppose a bill that does not give the local officials control over the funds. Once a tax dollar goes into an account controlled by the State of Georgia, you can bet that metro Atlanta is the last place it will be spent.

Daedalus

April 8th, 2010
1:12 pm

For all of those that claim that metro Atlanta is subsidized by the rest of the state, here is a link to a GSU study that shows that “the residents of the 28 Metro Atlanta Counties accounted for approximately 61 percent of Georgia state revenue and received approximately 47 percent of Georgia state expenditures….”

http://aysps.gsu.edu/frc/files/Rpt_188FIN.pdf

I recall that the AJC’s Jim Wooten threw a fit when this study came out since it refuted one of his main talking points.

Daniel

April 8th, 2010
1:29 pm

Pathetic. I sincerely hope that more metro-area voters are as infuriated with the black-hole-of-transportation-setbacks that seems to define our state government as I am.

When not riding MARTA, it takes me an hour to drive 12 miles home using our terribly useless highways. I’ll say it again: pathetic.

[...] conference committee meeting in the capitol. However, it was over after less than an hour. The committee just read over sections of the old HB1218 legislation. This indicates they are using HB1218 as a [...]

Keep_taxes_local

April 8th, 2010
1:33 pm

Agreed- many the lawmakers to the south of us are as anti-Atlanta as they come, until it involves using OUR tax money to fund their projects. I want local spending of our tax dollars, and if the rest of the state feels like we use all of their tax dollars, then they should want the same thing. It’s a win-win- for those of us in Atlanta more of OUR taxes go to fixing more of OUR problems. For them, maybe they will see how truly important Atlanta’s tax base is to maintaining their roads.

Another point- why are lawmakers from Tifton and Dublin deciding on what WE should do with the GA 400 toll? Like the toll or not, its OUR right to choose in a local election. Traffic in Tifton and Dublin Georgia is nothing like traffic in Atlanta. We don’t need people from the rural areas of the state sticking their nose in our issues and taking our tax dollars from us.

Atlanta

April 8th, 2010
1:45 pm

Bob’s right! We don’t need an Atlanta-first solution. In fact, we should eject Atlanta from the rest of the state. Georgia will be juuuuuust fine without Atlanta. Absolutely so. Everyone around the world knows that Jeff Davis County is where the jobs are in Georgia.

HanDAWG

April 8th, 2010
2:16 pm

Good article on the importance of transportation progress in this week’s Creative Loafing.

inside gal

April 8th, 2010
2:30 pm

The Reverend Jackson came here to speak the Truth! Now those legislaters will have to do something!

John

April 8th, 2010
3:08 pm

Read my lips, NO more TAXES. Republicans are as bad as the Dems.

Bill

April 8th, 2010
3:31 pm

The road to future economic growth and prosperity in Atlanta hinges on public transportation; high speed rail; the Beltline; and other transportation projects to reduce traffic and smog. Get with the program!!!

rwh

April 8th, 2010
3:40 pm

I cannot understand why Georgia is so far behind on transportation; moving it citizens from place to place. We all can take a lesson from Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. Making transportation available to its workers and citizens. Metro-Atlanta is a term that move its people from place-to-place and not just downtown, Buckhead, etc., it means you move people to where they need to go and it is done in a manner that keep’s the cities open making income to keep the service going. MARTA do not go everywhere and it only pick where it goes. Clayton County sure could use it right now; and you connect cities to ciies with mass transportation. I am only seeing paving and fix-up right down town in the area of Georgia State and Grady area. Soon or later, mass-transit will be the way of the future; and while Georgia lag behind, other cities is moving on ahead. Can we all get with the prgram?

Scott

April 8th, 2010
3:44 pm

I think what makes me madder still is there are no democrats, no Atlanta representatives, nobody looking after our interests on that damn conference committee…wtf is that?

TAX REVOLT

April 8th, 2010
3:53 pm

I think the Atlanta Metro should withhold ALL taxes to the state for about a year and see how the ungrateful sob’s whine to our south. During that year…just spend it here

yeahIknow

April 8th, 2010
4:03 pm

These things need to be done outside of Atlanta…

1- Passenger rail from Atlanta to Macon.
2- Passenger rail from Atlanta to Athens.
3- Finish 4 laning US 441 all the way from border to border( additional north-south corridor removing pressure from I-95 and I-75).

Patrick

April 8th, 2010
4:17 pm

Atlanta should be allowed to break away from the rest of the state. The rest of the state hates us and our progressive lifestyle…Let them live the way they want. us how we want, let us have mass transit and be able to buy alcohol on Sundays.. I’m from Atlanta and this backwards Bible thumping state has been an embarassment on a great city for years!!!

Atlanta isn't an island..

April 8th, 2010
4:29 pm

Let’s place a $10.00 toll on every car and $50.00 toll on every truck traveling on a road going through the lowly state of Georgia into the mighty city of Atlanta. Then you can keep your money. The state could probably get by on that..,

Die Hard Dem

April 8th, 2010
4:33 pm

Looky there, Georgia government is dominated by Republicans and all they could do is let a much needed transportation bill DIE and then have a meeting to discuss having another meeting to discuss the bill they let die.

Great job on electing efficient lawmakers, Georgia.

Dave

April 8th, 2010
4:35 pm

Patrick, you are always free to leave. You don’t even have to show your papers if you cross state lines.

Your attitude is exactly why people who don’t live in Atlanta cannot stand it. To bigots like you, everyone who isn’t as enlightened as you is just a bible-thumping caveman. But thanks for illustrating that so wonderfully for the the uninitiated.

Die Hard Dem

April 8th, 2010
4:36 pm

@ Patrick
Atlanta breaking away would be a good idea, but then the suburbanites would complain that they were supporting the city and just want to break down the new state into smaller ones.

THIS IS WHY NOTHING GETS DONE IN THIS STATE. TOO MANY AREAS JUST “ME, ME, ME, ME” INSTEAD OF LOOKING AT THE BROAD PICTURE.

Atlanta isn't an island..

April 8th, 2010
4:41 pm

Oh yeah Patrick you better dig a well. No more water piped in from out here in the boonies…

Sick and Tired

April 8th, 2010
4:55 pm

Vote out everybody and get fresh blood into our state offices! Forget party lines, honestly take a cold, hard look at what someone is saying during this year’s election campaign. Look at what they’ve supported in the past and see if that differs from what they’re claiming to support now.

Having meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting with zero results is absolutely f******* ridiculous. Praying to God to win over votes of idiots that can’t think beyond anything else is NOT the way to run our government.

Get them ALL out.

Eric

April 8th, 2010
5:23 pm

There is still no real protection for transit in this funding bill as far as i’m concerned and promising a portion of a penny at transit won’t help.

A dedicated portion of the funding needs to go to transit and not Lexus/Managed lanes that a bus could ride in! That’s highway expansion not transit. But as seen in Gwinnett’s I-85 project GRTA tried to call that a transit expansion.

What DOES need to happen is the state needs to take their fingers out of MARTA and revise the outdated restriction on how MARTA can spend the Fulton and DeKalb generated 1% sales tax so that in these tough economic times they don’t have to spend 50% on capital improvements but in stead can apply more of it to operations until sales tax revenues return previous levels.

Oh and in general throwing money at transportation won’t work if the counties still let people develop whereever and however they want. Smarter development patterns that make more efficient use of our transportation infrastructure is the answer.

John

April 8th, 2010
5:26 pm

Any additional funding for transportation should come from increases on the gas tax with any necessary adjustment for low income persons.

A sales tax increase for transportation basically subsidizes sprawl as things stand now in GA so even if i’m responsible and live near my job or in a mixed use community near a transit station and thus make efficient use of the transportation infrastructure i’m paying the same sales tax as those that do not.

[...] AJC’s Gold Dome wizard Aaron Gould Sheinin reports that House and Senate leaders gathered this morning for a brief sitdown about transportation [...]

Scott

April 8th, 2010
8:29 pm

@John

The only problem with raising the gas tax is that it cannot be used for transit…only roads and bridges

Roadking

April 9th, 2010
9:25 am

The first thing that needs to be done is figure out the funding to maintain the existing roadways. Georgia has gone from one of the best in the nation to one of the worst. It makes no sense to increase the lane miles of road when we can’t maintain what we have. The TSPLOST will only be used for capital projects with no consideration given to the maintenance and upkeep.

Hodad

April 9th, 2010
12:22 pm

Who needs metro Atlanta anyway? Let them drown in their traffic problems!! They are dragging the rest of us in Willacoochee and Ludowici and other high quality areas of the state down with them. How could high tech companies of the future seeking for new locations turn their noses up to those parts of the state that boasts a labor force with a third grade level education!! We can attract just as many jobs and development to the state as Atlanta by offering up the skilled labor force, superb infrastructure and cultural attractions that exist in the balance of the state. Just give us a chance!!!!

John

April 9th, 2010
1:36 pm

@Scott

Actually the Gas Tax is only constitutionally mandated to highways for purposes any tax based on the sale per gallon. A percentage sales tax is only legislatively dedicated to highways. GA has 3 cents per gallon per constitution and also has 1% of the state 4% to roads per legislation. So the 1% could go to transit with legislative changes or raise the gas tax on a percentage not on a gallon basis.

Also definition of highway is a public means of transportation so a train line could be argued to fall under that catagory. Certainly a BRT and Bus lane could be funded by road dollars since the bus lane is a road. the old park and ride lots and rest stops were funded with gas tax dollars. Maybe the buses them selves would have to be funded another way.

West Cobber

April 11th, 2010
2:32 pm

MARTA’s an 1860’s technology that has no chance of recovering its own costs through the fare box. Therefore, the larger the system, the more subsidy money it needs to exist. Stop trying to find more tax dollars to feed the inefficient beast!!!

Another technology exists that IS designed to pay for itself through the fare box… The HighRoad Rapid Transit System. It can be implemented faster than subway-style trains, cost less to operate and move just as many people.

It’s time for our legislators to begin thinking outside the box and provide some relatively low-level seed money to initiate a privately-funded system that *** pays back many-fold over future years… and without federal tax dollars! ***

It can also accommodate speeds over 200mph, connecting major cities throughout the Southeast as so many desire!

Find more at http://www.OTG-Inc.com

Earnest

April 13th, 2010
1:17 pm

@ Daedalus, thanks for posting the paper. Just what I was looking for.

I love how the best research and journalism on this site is in the comments, not the articles!