As mentioned this morning, Republican lawmakers are contemplating a quick transportation funding bill that doesn’t adhere to guidelines established in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s HB 1218.
But a hard-won provision in the governor’s transportation bill was a termporary lifting of the state requirement that MARTA equally divide its sales-tax revenue between capital and operating expenses.
MARTA official have described the flexibility as crucial to the transit agency’s operation in the current economy.
Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) has posted the second part of an audio interview with House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge).
The speaker drops few clues on what a passable transportation bill might look like. But this exchange doesn’t bode well for the transit agency:
O’Hayer:Can MARTA survive another year without a transportation plan that includes some loosening of the restrictions that it faces on how it spends the tax revenue it gets?
Ralston: I’ve been trying to understand how MARTA got in the problem they’re in. I think that we have to have a better understanding of what brought us to this point before we know how to get out of the problem.
O’Hayer: One thing that advocates say is, MARTA has had very little, if any, support from the state for years. Most major regional transportation systems have that from their states.
Ralston: I’m not sure MARTA has ever had very much support from the state. It was never designed to be state-supported. It’s an important part of a large transportation infrastructure in Georgia. But I think before we have any kind of serious discussion about how we right the ship, we need to find out how we got into the storm.
O’Hayer: Is there time for that?
Ralston: Probably not this session. I mean, that’s going to have to be an extended discussion looking at all the things I’ve mentioned. And I think that would be a discussion that would take a lot of time. More than 40 days.
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