Your morning jolt: GOP lawmakers near decision to cut governor out of transit negotiations

Republican lawmakers in the state Capitol are closing in on a decision to cut Gov. Sonny Perdue out of negotiations on a statewide transportation funding bill.

Signs have been pointing in this direction for weeks. Last month, the House declined to move the governor’s plan, introduced with much hoopla in February as HB 1218 – even though Speaker David Ralston’s name was attached.

At issue was Perdue’s insistence that a statewide system of regional tax districts include no provision that would allow counties to “opt out” of such districts.

Allowing one or two counties to do so could frustrate cross-country transportation projects, the governor argued.

Republican lawmakers, in both the House and Senate, have balked at the idea of subverting the independence of their home counties.

But the governor wields a veto. So a final-days move is afoot to return to plans that stalled last year – and the year before that. A coalition of GOP and Democratic lawmakers would back a proposed constitutional amendment that would appear on the November ballot, empowering certain districts – i.e., metro Atlanta – to levy a one-cent transportation sales tax.

The legislation would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber, but wouldn’t be subject to a gubernatorial veto. Look for movement to start in the Senate, then shift to the House.

We are being urged not to read anything into House Speaker David Ralston’s failure to turn HB 307, the hospital bed tax bill, back to the Senate on Monday. Ralston had declared he would do so, because of a Senate amendment that would eventually eliminate the sales tax on health insurance policies.

One might have thought that the Preston Smith blow-up might have caused Ralston to hesitate, but we’re told it was more the fact that the two chambers operated on opposite ends of the work day.

Behind closed doors, the Senate Republican caucus met deep into late Monday afternoon to salve the wounds of the day. Here’s the GBP recap of the day’s volatile doings – via PeachPundit, and the friendly people at YouTube:

Several of you have recommended a Paul Krugman column in Sunday’s NYT, analyzing the difference between the relatively tame record of bank failures in Texas, and Georgia’s record-breaking 37 – out of 206 nationally.

A few paragraphs:

What’s striking about the contrast between the Texas story and Georgia’s debacle is that it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the issues that have dominated debates about banking reform. For example, many observers have blamed complex financial derivatives for the crisis. But Georgia banks blew themselves up with old-fashioned loans gone bad.

And for all the concern about banks that are too big to fail, Georgia suffered, if anything, from a proliferation of small banks. Actually, the worst offenders in the lending spree tended to be relatively small start-ups that attracted customers by playing to a specific community. Thus Georgian Bank, founded in 2001, catered to the state’s elite, some of whom were entertained on the C.E.O.’s yacht and private jet. Meanwhile, Integrity Bank, founded in 2000, played up its “faith based” business model — it was featured in a 2005 Time magazine article titled “Praying for Profits.” Both banks have now gone bust.

The behind-the-scenes political game on Thursday may be over who shows up at the tea party rally at the state Capitol, and who doesn’t. This from today’s Boston Globe:

Unsure where they fit in among the restive masses of the “tea party movement,’’ leading figures in the Massachusetts Republican Party are split over whether to join a rally tomorrow with Sarah Palin and several thousand activists on Boston Common.

Three of the party’s leading lights — gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker, conservative congressional candidate Jeffrey D. Perry, and US Senator Scott P. Brown, who was personally invited by the organizers to attend — say they will not participate.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis will be speaking at Kent State University next month to mark the 40th anniversary of that deadly confrontation between students and the Ohio National Guard.

The Gwinnett Post reports that Sarah Palin will make an appearance in June – not at a political gathering, but at a religious rally at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. She’ll be supporting something called the P.U.R.E. Ministry Project.

It would be her first appearance in the Atlanta burbs since the 2008 U.S. Senate runoff between Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

72 comments Add your comment

Daedalus

April 13th, 2010
10:05 am

What — another transportation bill going down in flames?

I’m shocked, just shocked.

Enjoy your car!

Sick of Republicans

April 13th, 2010
10:20 am

I had high hopes when Ralston took over the reins – boy was I wrong. Same old garbage and if he truly was interested in transportation issues he would remove Jill Chambers from the MARTOC Committee. So much for thinking Republicans would finally see the light and realize not everyone is as wealthy as they are.

CJae From East Lake

April 13th, 2010
10:21 am

Republicans in this state have done a miserable job of extending GA’s economic prosperity and are at risk of dropping the state several rungs down the ladder compared to its counterparts across the Southeast.

Effective mass transportation plans or the lack thereof will be a huge factor in GA’s ability to attact and expand business within the Atlanta metropolian area(which includes the city along with at least 9 other surrounding counties) thats is without question the ecomonic engine of the state.

Its time for real solutions to real problems.

Big Brother

April 13th, 2010
10:36 am

Don’t forget to fill out your Census forms so the government can keep track of you. Thanks.

mum

April 13th, 2010
10:56 am

Big Brother, the government already keeps track of you…does your social security number ring a bell?

MiltonMan

April 13th, 2010
10:57 am

“John Lewis will be speaking…”. More like “John Lewis will be blabbing…”

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
10:59 am

it is sickening how transit is viewed in this sorry state. I feel a constant pull everyday i am fighting with myself because I LOVE this city and i love the south but i want the conveniences of city life in Chicago or NYC. Georgia lawmakers see mass transit as some sort of welfare system, but there is a growing new market for it which is the up and coming 22-35 yr olds who have already brought about the renaissance of the American city and put to death the 50 yr reign of the sprawling American suburbs. There is a different side to the urban culture that these lawmakers need to acknowledge or they will be the ones who vote them out. I am a 24 year old WHITE REPUBLICAN who lives in the city amongst thousands of other white relatively successful 22-35 yr old republicans who have no access to MARTA even though we live in the heart of Atlanta right on Peachtree road. We would use transit to spur the economy. I wish I could use it to go to work in Smyrna, go to Braves games, Hawks,Falcons and Thrashers games. I wish i could take it to Fernbank or the DeKalb farmers market, maybe even Stone Mountain, but I cant because I live in the heart of Atlanta on the cities “signature” thoroughfare yet I cant even walk to a Marta station.

Kate

April 13th, 2010
10:59 am

Why do people assume “republicans” are all wealthy? Trust me, they aren’t.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
11:05 am

that was my point, but the ones in control are because they come from the wealthy districts who can give them financial firepower.

self destruct

April 13th, 2010
11:13 am

Things are bad enough and now these clowns are taking us all the way to the crash site with the engine they are providing.

Are you kidding me?

April 13th, 2010
11:18 am

@Art Vandalay…it’s interesting that everything you listed in your post is reachable via MARTA or MARTA and CCT…you must have an aversion to buses…

MiltonMan

April 13th, 2010
11:22 am

Art, what makes you think that the 50-year reign of American suburbs is over??? Look at the fastest grwoing counties in Georgia & you know what – they are suburb counties clown. Your ignorance is laughable by stating this opinion.

I do not want Atlanta like Chicago or NYC – overtaxed cities ran by a bunch of Demorats.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
11:23 am

I live on Peachtree Road in the middle of Atlanta, I shouldnt have to ride busses and get transfers to get to a transit station, you also shouldn’t have to switch from a train to a bus to get to a baseball game. Anything is accessable via transportation if you work hard enough the point was living right in the middle of the city it should be easier than driving and it isn’t. I was merely making the point that those lawmakers t hat see mass transit as a main mode for lower class maybe it would help thaw their view if they saw the young middle class wanting it as a convenience, there is not just a need for transit there is a want as well. We have cars but we wish we didn’t HAVE to use them.

Art Vandalay...

April 13th, 2010
11:25 am

may be onto something.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
11:31 am

well milton man the fact that the city limits of Atlanta are more populated than at any other point in their history mainly by young professionals and young families who grew up in the blight and sprawl of the sunbelt suburbs and want something different for themselves and their children. If you cared to ever step foot in Buckhead or Midtown you would see a thriving, growing community of well off professionals and young families with babies and children enjoying a more sustainable type of life. Go out to the suburbs and it is an aging baby boomer, and increasingly low income minority population sitting in traffic. There is a changing of the guard from the baby boomers to the 70’s and 80’s babies who are bringing back city life in America, just like you and your parents brought about the American suburb in the 1940s and 50s. It is a fact, im in the age group i talk to my peers, we will take smaller spaces for more convenience and amenities. We want to walk to the stores, restaurants, parks, and have time for our families instead of spending 2 hours a day commuting. We don’t need 2 acres and 3 extra bedrooms.

Paddy O

April 13th, 2010
11:33 am

Art Vandalay – your a damn fool. You are talking about a subway. It is very costly without the adequate population density that NY has. Why not discuss the far less paid taxes to operate government that you have in Georgia? Urban people really do love asking the government for services they do not intend to pay for 100%.

ricardo

April 13th, 2010
11:34 am

The Repubs in the State of Ga are driven by simple ideology. They have no idea how to govern or what to govern. Pray for the citizens of GA.

Paddy O

April 13th, 2010
11:35 am

Art is so full of manure, it is leaking out his eyes. I bet buckhead & his beloved downtown atlanta have more crime in a day than Haralson County has in a decade. If he wants a place where he doesn’t need a car, start that business. I suspect that he is a very profound minority.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
11:38 am

Paddy O i’m not really sure what you are saying? If you a referring to not paying for a subway, MARTA is 100% paid for by those who use it so what are you trying to say? BTW, Buckhead pays more taxes than most other parts of the state combined and 30309 zip code which is Midtown Atlanta is fast becoming one of the more affluent in the state so perhaps you should ask who is paying for YOUR services.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
11:43 am

Paddy O not a minority, thanks you bigoted fool. Obviously you have never taken a statistics class, Buckhead and Downtown have more crime than Haralson county has in a decade…of course genius! My neighborhood also has more people than all of Harlason County the shear number of crimes means nothing if you aren’t looking at a per capita number. For example New York City has 10 times the raw number of crimes than say, Knoxville, TN but per capita, your odds of actually being affected by a crime are much much higher in Knoxville.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
11:52 am

You folks love to throw around “Downtown” too. Oh your beloved Buckhead and Downtown. I never mentioned Downtown. Midtown and Buckhead are their own thriving affluent urban neighborhoods and have nothing to do with Downtown Atlanta. That’d be like if i came up to your pig farm and then went to only the worst part of your county and based all my future opinions of the place and the people on that one tiny part I saw.

Scott

April 13th, 2010
11:58 am

I refer you to a post I made at another forum…perhaps some of you should read it:

http://saportareport.com/blog/?p=3627#comments

Art is correct btw…

Bill

April 13th, 2010
11:59 am

You left out the part of Krugman’s editorial that explains why Georgia Banks failed in such large numbers while those in Texas did not. Texas, surprisingly, has strong consumer protection laws.

Real American

April 13th, 2010
12:05 pm

Get em Art! Some of the citizens have no clue (like the ones they voted for)!

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:05 pm

Art Vandalay makes some good points about transit in Atlanta. The service is much too limited. Particularly if he lives in Buckhead, he is not near a MARTA station. However, many of the destinations he mentions are accessible from MARTA trains, including a Braves game, and the Dekalb Farmers market. It involves walking a bit, but that should not be a problem for a healthy 24 year old. One of the things that makes cities like Chicago, NY and DC work is their walkability in addition to transit.

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:07 pm

Paddy0
I live in the city of Atlanta. If I watch the local news, it makes me afraid to go to the suburbs.

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:08 pm

Milton Man,

Actually, for the last two or three years, the city of Atlanta has been growing at a faster rate than its suburbs.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
12:11 pm

They are accessible, but my home is not. If i have to get in the car and drive to Lindbergh station anyway, i might as well just drive to where ever i am going. The Braves situation I never understood, they have people go to five points and get on busses but the GSU station is as close as some parking lots, they should just have a large police presence before and after games to get rid of the perception its not safe to walk. My idea however is a connecting tram from GSU station to Turner Field above ground like the one they just put in for rental cars at the airport, but first we need to be able to fund the transit we have.

LHardingDawg

April 13th, 2010
12:12 pm

Living in Columbus, I care nothing about paying more taxes so Art can walk out of his apartment and ride a train to the Braves game.

Contumelious

April 13th, 2010
12:13 pm

“We don’t need 2 acres and 3 extra bedrooms.”

Since when is this matter the concern of a 24-old, er, punk?

Take a bus pal. Is that too good for you? Do you expect a rail system to stop in front of all the little townie establishments you frequent? You expect everybody else to pay for your transportation mode of choice.

Also: “MARTA is 100% paid for by those who use it…”

Not true. Only $103 million of Marta’s $351 million 2009 revenues came from passenger revenues.

Grow up. Do some research. Stop expecting everyone to pay for your indulgences. Mind your own business.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
12:13 pm

agreed bill. I have to go to some parts of Gwinnett for work, there are areas of Norcross near 85 and Lilburn that I think twice about getting out of my car during the day. I will say I enjoy the North Fulton suburbs like Roswell and Alpharetta but like i said my generation as we become more influential just doesn’t see the reason for that commute and we won’t do it.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
12:17 pm

lhardingdawg,
The current transportation proposal would in no way make someone in columbus pay for transit in Atlanta. Its the matter for us contumelious because we are the ones on our way in and you are the ones on your way out. The culture of America is shaped by the next thing, the upcoming, not that been and gone and the overwhelming truth is our culture is trending towards live, work, and play, transit accessible communities, ask any developer smart enough to still make a buck.

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:20 pm

Art,
I agree about Turner field, but it is walkable from 5pts or from GSU station.

Just Wondering

April 13th, 2010
12:20 pm

Dear Art Vandalay, I’m sorry you have such great ideas and no understanding of the real world. Probably a recent College graduate (I hope so for your sake).
First, MARTA is poorly ran with excessively high operating costs and Board that caters to their people that need a way to work and play who do not have the resources to have a car.
Second, Those of us who purchase anything in Atlanta/Fulton County/Dekalb County support MARTA. Several years ago, there were votes in Cobb and Gwinette and we found out that the tax revenue was going to be used in existing MARTA for 5 years before any transportation expansion into Cobb & Gwinette. Why do you think there is little support for MARTA outside the current area.
Third, Atlanta and Houston have the same problem, the population density will not support mass transportation like you are suggesting.
Also, you are quick to slam others instead of understanding the facts and positions as well as feelings of others. Comments such as yours helps to inflame and polarize the discussion rather than help.
IF we were to vote for additional funding, who would administer it? MARTA NOT!!
The solution is a 13 county METRO transit authority that rolls all of the existing transport agencies into one with Board of Directors from across the METRO area.
Still, there is not enough funding to keep you from riding a Bus. Maybe you should get a Bicycle if you are above riding a bus. I ride Buses to the Braves Games.

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:21 pm

Art,

I wonder how close the beltway will come to Turner field?

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:21 pm

LHardinDawg,
If you read carefully, you will find that no one is asking you to.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
12:22 pm

http://wealth.mongabay.com/cities/GEORGIA.html oh and for the record for those who think the city limits are a slum. Hmmm..don’t see many communities from Haralson County on there…must be dangerous.

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:23 pm

contemelious,

True, only part of the operating costs come from fares. The rest comes from a local sales tax. The state of Georgia contributes nothing. It is the only major city transit city in the country that gets no state support.

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:25 pm

Art, I am nearly old enough to be your grandfather, but I don’t value driving everywhere I go either. (and I grew up in Detroit)

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
12:25 pm

I agree there should be one metro wide transit system run by a board comprised of 13 counties. If it makes people feel better to change the name i doubt anyone would argue. I’m not saying MARTA is perfect in fact im agreeing with you, i’m saying it doesnt work for me. The problem is the lawmakers can’t step up and come to a solution.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
12:28 pm

I’m not saying I should be able to take it without busses or walking anywhere but on PEACHTREE. why in the 1970s did they go from Arts Center to Linbergh?? Why not right up Peachtree when they had the chance?

atlin83

April 13th, 2010
12:30 pm

LHardingDawg – Art makes lots of bad points about how he might be averse to other real forms of transit (buses) for stupid, non-real reasons (”because I shouldn’t have to”), but you should definitely have an interest in paying a statewide transportation tax so that people in Atlanta can take buses and trains to work (even if Art won’t take them to a Braves game). Transit’s fundamental to the Atlanta regional economy, and the Atlanta regional economy fuels the rest of the state. This region gives more in state taxes than it recieves back from the state budget – so while you might oppose the idea of any subsidy to Atlanta, Atlanta’s been subsidizing you for years. This is all in the common interest, if we’d see a few feet beyond the “two Georgias” thing.

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:34 pm

Just wondering,
1) What is your basis for saying MARTA has excessively high operating costs?
2) Lack of support in Cobb, Gwinnett, etc. goes back much farther than that. Something about black people might take the train to the suburbs to steal your television.
3) This is not exactly linear. Cities with greater density have that density in part because they have transit. Density in Atlanta is increasing. It needs to increase more, and better transit will help.
MARTA administration has room to improve, but I don’t think they are the disaster you suggest. Take for example the fact that MARTA has never had a serious train accident like the recent one in DC.
I do agree with you about inflammatory language and the tone of the conversation. If I have contributed to that in any way, I sincerely apologize.
I also agree with you that we need a regional solution. There is a great deal of mistrust to overcome by both the city and the suburbs. If Atlanta prospers, we all prosper. If Atlanta does not prosper…Well, look at Detroit.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
12:34 pm

thanks for the veiled agreement atlin83. I will admit I am a bit leery of busses much like our rural friends are of trains, maybe i’ll overcome my fear today. My problem with them has been though that the busses have to sit in traffic anyway so what is the real benefit?

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:36 pm

Art,

Why they didn’t go up Peachtree? I suspect it is because those living in Buckhead did not expect to ever ride MARTA, and …well, the maid can take a bus.

Got Stomach

April 13th, 2010
12:36 pm

Milton Man, in your reference to John Lewis babbling you need to ask yourself this. Would anyone who was savagely beaten and got their skull fractured not have a speech impediment? You sir, are a bigoted disgrace.

Just Wondering

April 13th, 2010
12:39 pm

Art,
I’m not saying MARTA is perfect in fact im agreeing with you, i’m saying it doesnt work for me. The problem is the lawmakers can’t step up and come to a solution.

Great, now we are getting somewhere with the thread.

Over the years, the current District gives equal funding across the state, which short changes the Atlanta Metro needs. The issue is how do we change the Georgia Transportation allocation to provide money for projects where they are needed, which would take money away from area outside Atlanta, Augusta, Macon, Savannah and maybe others. The rural politicians aren’t willing to give up any of their money.
Good, Bad or Indifferent, this is what the Governor tried to do is make the funds available on a needs basis across the state and has caught grief.

Now the taxing Districts that can support transportation projects in their area, but the rural guys aren’t going for this since the overall state transportation Budget could be cut. It’s had to beak old habits of rural legislators controlling the state government

Bill

April 13th, 2010
12:40 pm

Art,

I hear from many people, some in Atlanta, and many in the suburbs that they are afraid to ride MARTA trains. My wife and I (middle aged white people) ride them all the time, with no problems. It is mostly just people going to work.

As for the buses, I have ridden them, but not as much. My impression is the same: Just a bunch of people going to work. The bus is a little less pleasant, but much of that is due to the narrowness of city streets. I much prefer to not have to worry about a car in the city.

Contumelious

April 13th, 2010
12:46 pm

Perhaps you should change your name to Art “Vandal” because backing financially unsustainable debacles such as Marta constitutes vandalism of the public treasury.

At the core, you are greedy because you believe other people’s tax dollars should be applied to projects that you, not them, regard as desirable. And you don’t let facts stop you because even a cursory examination of Marta’s web site shows a minority of Marta’s revenue is derived from passenger fares.

Your selfishness is only exceeded by your conceit and your disdain for people with whom you don’t agree.

I feel sorry for you.

Art Vandalay

April 13th, 2010
12:48 pm

thanks bill, maybe i can start using them to connect to the buckhead station.