On Monday, after the state Senate passed — for a second time — its proposal for a regional sales tax for transportation, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle did something unusual.
The latter phrase is Capitol-speak. One vote by the House, conceding to the Senate position, would end a two-year debate over increased funding for traffic congestion, the lieutenant is saying.
Download a copy of the flyer here. It’s being distributed to those with an interest in transportation — i.e., the state’s business community, many of whom blame Cagle for the Senate’s failure to pass something similar last year.
Senate contacts are also trying to pressure the opposite chamber by pointing to a House Policy Committee summary of priorities, published last September.
Under transportation, this was first on the list:
“Pass legislation which allows voters in the regions around the state to craft their transportation improvement plans, in concert with the state DOT and as demanded by local citizens, to be funded by citizen-approved SPLOST referendums with sunset provisions.”
Which is precisely what the Senate bill does. The House changed direction in November, heading toward a statewide sales tax, and hasn’t looked back.
House members we’ve talked to said they find such tactics presumptive, and counterproductive. We’ll see. If nothing else, should all collapse, Cagle has pointed an early finger at the House as the guilty party.
On Monday, in a press conference that preceded the flyer, Cagle may have more impact than many are admitting, though perhaps not in the way the lieutenant governor intended.
Yes, Cagle advised House Speaker Glenn Richardson to adopt the Senate position on a regional T-SPLOST. But no one really expects that to work.
Rather, the underlying message from Cagle was that the sales tax measure should be moved to a conference committee — and never mind Perdue’s priority on reorganizing the state’s many transit agencies.
This morning, perhaps wondering if he were about to be cut out of a pending deal, the governor held a three-hour staff meeting to chart out the revival of his initiative.
A meeting with Richardson was on the governor’s afternoon agenda. The House Transportation Committee on Wednesday is to pass out — vastly changed — the governor’s reorganization bill.
We’re hearing some talk of a package deal that gives everyone something, even Democrats. Move a single bill to conference — which one hardly matters. Then the sales tax, governance — and MARTA funding — all become part of a midnight-hour solution.
It’s not the best way to legislate, but apparently it’s our way.
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