Nathan Deal’s Plan B: Governor intends to step into transportation vacuum

On Tuesday morning, as metro Atlanta voters hurled an $8 million sales tax campaign into the trash, Gov. Nathan Deal held what aides called his first session with top transportation officials to discuss Plan B.

What voters dismissed was a bottom-up list of $8 billion in road and rail projects created by local elected leaders. (Read the main AJC piece on the TSPLOST vote here.)
The Plan B that staggered out of the governor’s office will be its polar opposite: Dramatically smaller, paid for with shrinking funds, and highly centralized. Projects will be hand-picked by a governor who intends to squeeze every penny available.

And no matter what others might say today, don’t look for a sequel to the TSPLOST referendum. A second vote has no place in the governor’s Plan B.

Instead, Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, said traffic planners in regions across the state will be quickly asked to resubmit lists of road and rail proposals that require state and federal funding – figuring in an 8 percent decrease in federal funding. The governor has veto power over each list.

Riley said that Deal intends to use that authority to direct cash to absolutely essential projects in metro Atlanta and elsewhere. “The state’s top transportation priority is the Ga. 400 and I-285 interchange,” Riley said. But metro Atlanta residents could also find themselves enduring pot holes and worse for the sake of better roads around the Port of Savannah, he added.

That’s another priority.

The governor’s top aide said Deal had been hesitant to speak of alternatives before TSPLOST balloting ended. ”We didn’t want anyone to think that it would fail. But you can’t be a governor and not look at both options,” Riley said.

The governor is likely to express his disappointment today over the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. Certainly he will focus on the price of austerity, as chosen by voters. “Will we be able to compete in the global market with Plan B? Yes. Will every company look at us? No,” said Brian Robinson, Deal’s director of communications.

But in a way, defeat clears the way for Deal to assume full responsibility for the mess that is Georgia’s system of planning and paying for moving goods and people. The TSPLOST referendum, with its awkward system of roundtables to settle on project lists and a vote conducted in the heat of a GOP primary, was the handiwork of Gov. Sonny Perdue.

But, however liberated he may feel, Deal has few options. The most direct route – asking a Republican-led Legislature for a tax increase, whether on gasoline or anything else, is off the table. Some opponents of the TSPLOST, including Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock, have said they’ll push for a second TSPLOST referendum with a more road-friendly list.

But that would require a Legislature willing to debate it, a business community willing to pony up millions for another campaign, and Republican leadership in suburban Atlanta that will speak up for when the time for voting comes. Let’s ask Tim Lee, the chairman of the Cobb County Commission, how that worked out for him.

Any attempt at a second vote will move without the governor’s backing. “We haven’t given any thought of presenting it to the General Assembly,” Riley said.

That leaves the big decisions on what will be built, and with what funds, largely in the hands of the governor, the state Department of Transportation, and planning agencies like the Atlanta Regional Commission. But mostly in the hands of the governor.

“The governor will not move forward without the consent GDOT,” Riley said – very carefully. Deal will court approval from the DOT board, but he intends to keep the initiative. The governor recently appointed a trusted aide, Toby Carr, as the DOT’s planning director, giving him another layer of control over what transportation projects are funded.

So the Atlanta Regional Commission will soon have to clear its wish lists with the governor. ARC Chairman Tad Leithead said he’ll be happy to do so. “I think the entire state would welcome anything the governor does to keep transportation moving,” he said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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424 comments Add your comment

Jason

July 31st, 2012
11:20 pm

Plan B? Wait, I was told there would be no Plan B. It was TSPLOST or nothing. We were lied to AGAIN?

Benjy

July 31st, 2012
11:29 pm

So it appears that, in rejecting T-SPLOST, lovers of local control everywhere (small-government types) have concentrated the power to make these decisions in the hands of one man. Hope they’re happy.

GT Alum

July 31st, 2012
11:30 pm

Well, it all depends. There’s not going to be anything as big and far-reaching as TSPLOST, but there’s no way they weren’t going to try to make some significant improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure.

Look before I leap...

July 31st, 2012
11:31 pm

Reading between the lines, it appears that Deal is poised to crown himself the czar of transportation in the state, and I am sensing some intended retribution for having his suitcases full of cash evaporate before his eyes.

And quite frankly, if for no other reason than the fact that the polling for TSPLOST has been solidly against this boondoggle for the past several weeks, it does not show much in the way of leadership on his part for not having his fallback plan in place before tonight.

And to arbitrarily declare that revenue enhancements such as raising the gas tax are “off the table” is ludicrous and hypocritical.

Do the folks who work in the gold dome actually believe that manure covered in whipped cream is any less odorous than manure served straight up?

GT Alum

July 31st, 2012
11:32 pm

Not sure I’d want pretty much full responsibility for Georgia’s traffic mess. If he’s able to make significant improvements, he’ll be a hero, but if things stay the same or get worse, he’ll likely be radioactive.

Cherokee

July 31st, 2012
11:38 pm

Too bad we wasted 8 years with that yahoo Sonny Perdue. What a loser…

Bill

July 31st, 2012
11:38 pm

They can call it what they want but this is just another tax. Georgians are taxes out.

Squeeze That Penny

July 31st, 2012
11:41 pm

Wow, Deal’s gonna actually try and do his job and uphold his fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Georgia? What a pain it must be for him…

Kris

July 31st, 2012
11:42 pm

…..Anger the troll…this did..

Sonny scat’s Port of Savannah…

Deal your next on the voting list….
Having said that, I leave with this…
Impeach DEAL, RECALL Reed

Transportation Woes

July 31st, 2012
11:43 pm

I didn’t exactly like the TSPLOST project list but I was hoping and praying that it would pass as there is absolutely no way that our state legislature will make the necessary tax increase needed to improve our transportation infrastructure.
Any hope of future mass transit solutions to alleviate the congestion on 285/75/85 has gone the way of the Northern Arc as well. The genius politicians like Chip Rogers will claim the vote represented a rejection of mass transit.
Sadly this just means that Atlanta will continue to watch as any transportation funds raised through gas taxes will be funneled out of the metro area to fund a new bypass through (insert S. Georgia city) and its powerful Republican in the state legislature.

StingerSplash

July 31st, 2012
11:43 pm

TSPLOST was badly needed here in Coastal Georgia and was heavy in much-needed improvements. And it got spanked. There’s no way it’s coming back for a vote again. The anti-tax wave swamped the need to build roads to ease congestion and open access for the economy.

O4W

July 31st, 2012
11:43 pm

“Some opponents of the TSPLOST, including Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock, have said they’ll push for a second TSPLOST referendum with a more road-friendly list.”

Ah yes, more of the same M.O. for the past four decades: enrich the road lobby while screwing MARTA, that’ll fix our transportation woes…

Iconoclast

July 31st, 2012
11:45 pm

TSPLOST hasn’t failed in every region of the state. Atlanta and north Georgia should soon have the opportunity to cry in its wet-diapers while Savannah and the Coastal Empire play host to a new era of economic development and sustainable growth.

The NAACP, Sierra Club, and the Tea Party have done more to set-back Atlanta and metro north Georgia than Sherman’s campaign against a few steel tracks.

Kris

July 31st, 2012
11:48 pm

I guess all the green CWM…trucks are headed South…

Anger the asphalt crooks this did…They better get used to it…

Wade Medlock

July 31st, 2012
11:50 pm

Fix million typo in graf1 to billion.

Logical Dude

July 31st, 2012
11:50 pm

Let’s say that all those at the state level arguing FOR TSPLOST actually got off their butts and did something about transit in Atlanta and the extended region around Atlanta.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Sorry, as much as it pains me, I don’t see it happening. I HOPE it happens. I HOPE this governor has the foresight to drive successful transit for the State Capital that prepares for the next 50 years. I HOPE the state legislature does their job and not slop their responsibility on others and then say “you should have done it!”
But alas, this is Georgia. . . and it will be scared politicians behaving like scared politicians with no vision. Lord, I hope I’m proved wrong, but I really do hope the State can get their act together.

Kris

July 31st, 2012
11:50 pm

Enter your comments here

hiram

July 31st, 2012
11:51 pm

Deal is like Br’er Rabbit – please, please, please don’t throw me in that briar patch! Guess who will be the sole focus of the unlimited, gift bearing lobbyists?

BW

July 31st, 2012
11:54 pm

Look Before I Leap

You don’t have to read between the lines at all….Gov Deal is taking over…forget referendums that will allow another embarrassment like the one endured tonight. You shouldn’t be surprised because this is the way it’s been done since…forever.

Jason

July 31st, 2012
11:55 pm

Various studies have shown that a parking tax in the City of Atlanta would raise more money that TSPLOST. And all of that money could go to projects in the city without involving the state at all. Almost every other city the size of Atlanta has a parking tax but we’re so addicted to making things as cheap as possible for driving everywhere that we won’t even consider the possibility.

Ker mitt

July 31st, 2012
11:58 pm

boot all the parkers in the atl – squeege them now.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

August 1st, 2012
12:02 am

@iconoclast..yes TSPLOST did fail in all 12 regions. It’s dead as disco. If the government sees a dire need to spend more on roads then they must take that money from elsewhere in the budget. We are too heavily taxed as -is.government must now pick and choose what to spend on, not simply choose all of the above and raise taxes.

ep

August 1st, 2012
12:04 am

Reap what you sew. Good luck getting new business.

Look before I leap...

August 1st, 2012
12:07 am

“Wow, Deal’s gonna actually try and do his job and uphold his fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Georgia? What a pain it must be for him…”

No, Deal is going to make sure that all the palm-greasing is confined to his corrupt little hands.

It’s like that game show with Howie Mandel a few years ago, “Deal or No Deal” (dontcha just LOVE the irony there?).
The million dollar briefcase was just taken out, but there are still big cases to be won.

Deal’s initiative selection will be carefully crafted to produce the most votes. Atlanta is SOOOOO screwed when it comes to fixing potholes.

Look before I leap...

August 1st, 2012
12:10 am

@Trisha:

TSPLOST was approved in Central Savannah River (7), River valley (8), and Heart of Georgia (9) .

Cherokee

August 1st, 2012
12:11 am

What ep said. Why would any business move here over, say, Charlotte, and spend all that money sitting in traffic?

In a few years Atlanta will just be another Birmingham.

Kris

August 1st, 2012
12:14 am

@ Look, As citizens we will have to closely monitor DEALs and the legislators Dealings.

Since this was part of Sonny’s big plan is it possible that good ole Natis just put the screws to sonny scat.

Impeach DEAL…

Vote no Tsplost

August 1st, 2012
12:15 am

Now they can get a back bone and deal with the fuel tax, I will support that, but I think Mr. Deal will have a bulls eye on hinm come next election, Sen Johny Grant is gone, we have worked hard to this end. Let this be a lesson to those that would try to place an odious tax on us.

Vote no Tsplost

August 1st, 2012
12:15 am

Friends Georgians Voters, Lend me your ears!! Yes a bit corny, but it worked once!

Well I have done my best to help defeat this TAX increase, I have worked hard these past 5 weeks, now we wait, and hope the rain does not cut the NO voter turnout.

Tomorrow there will be more political battles to fight, maybe you younger folks, seeing what the state has tried to pull over it’s citizens, will take, any organizations and contacts you may have formed in the TSPLSOT fight, on to new battles.

Wherever we see wrong doing, by our elected officials, we must act and speak out.

I would suggest that we now carry the fight to those officials that tried to burden us with this odious TAX. Lets rally together, and work to replace these senators and Reps. Only by seeing one of their kind fall, to an opponent, in the next election, will they REALLY TRULY get the message!!!

After 67 years I have become a bit jaded with politics, the amount of money floating about, to buy and sell our politicians, is amazing and discouraging. The last honest politician I can be sure about, is Harry Truman, who, on his return home, had to borrow money to buy back the family farm an get by, until he could write and sell his papers.

I think the biggest mistake we have made in the recent past, is to go to computer ballots.

We also need to return to the very easy to use, OPTICAL SCANNER. With that, you had a paper record and it was quick voting, If you did not mind anyone seeing, you could use any flat surface to write on and cast your ballot.

Oh well,, I guess I can dream can’t I.

Cheers,

Look before I leap...

August 1st, 2012
12:15 am

“Reap what you sew. Good luck getting new business.”

You don’t think a sales tax rate of 9.5% was going to be discouraging to some businesses?
Or a state ranked 49th in education?
Top 3 in bank failures in the last 5 years?

rod

August 1st, 2012
12:15 am

Deal is a idiot i bet Gainesville gets improvement Repubs are majority lets see what they will do he will be watched no matter what he does if I was him i woukd stay out of this he only has 2 years left anyway what can you do in 2 years Deal lol what a joke

oldfart

August 1st, 2012
12:17 am

Sonny was going to rein in the DOT board too. They chewed up Gena Evans and spit her back out. SRTA was split off and Gena was given full autonomy with toll money and toll road construction out of spite. Yeah that worked out real well.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

August 1st, 2012
12:21 am

@Look…I stand corrected..yes it did..the ajc grid was a little misleading at first glance.

They can pave main street in Blakely now…

Look before I leap...

August 1st, 2012
12:24 am

Jim: Any chance we can get a precinct by precinct analysis on the Atlanta Metro TSPLOST voting tomorrow?

hiram

August 1st, 2012
12:24 am

I figured out why the Real Deal has taken such a strong interest in Savannah, and appointed his Gainesville junk car inspector partner to the port authority. Looks like a repeat of the previous eight years for Georgia’s citizens.

“Atlanta is a hub for many of the large trading companies that send chickens on their international journey. The Port of Savannah boasts the busiest poultry-export operation in the country, moving about 40 percent of all U.S. containerized exports of poultry. It handled 1.6 billion pounds of poultry during the fiscal year that ended June 30, moving more than 67,000 20-foot containers.”

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/10/02/v-print/125887/why-did-the-chicken-cross-the.html

Look before I leap...

August 1st, 2012
12:29 am

“TSPLOST hasn’t failed in every region of the state. Atlanta and north Georgia should soon have the opportunity to cry in its wet-diapers while Savannah and the Coastal Empire play host to a new era of economic development and sustainable growth.”

Uh huh. Very funny
Got any money in that bucket for an airport?

hiram

August 1st, 2012
12:30 am

Now that the Real Deal is in charge of all transportation projects, look for new six lane highway and or high speed train from Gainesville to Savannah.

Rotunda $haquonda 0bama

August 1st, 2012
12:31 am

Deal is another RINO on the list.

Kris

August 1st, 2012
12:31 am

@ hiram, dead chicken you say, I thought the KFC handled that…he he

Now on to the other problems this forum can solve.

Home foreclose. (where is the 97 million the Feds gave GA. Put it in its rightful pockets.
Most likely to get a ticket if Stopped and cavity search!! OUCH!

War on Women. Damn wrong Period!! damn wrong

EDUCATION. Gambling will not fix this problem.

Lack of ETHICS. Made progress need super tough penilities for violators…make it hurt bad.

Just a few…

How do we make this happen. ????? Just a few Ideas.
Class action lawsuit by the citizens involved in the affective areas against the state of GA.
(there is a lawyer amongst us). Or all the citizens of GA vs the GA government.
I like this one ” Vote all of those responsible OUT of office. and run Natie out on a rail)”.
Folk’s belly aching and bullying is not going to fix the problem.
Shame on the bullies we know who you are
We can figure this out..Were smarter than the politicians

Leedart

August 1st, 2012
12:35 am

If the people want a hole of a city, I hope the business leaders see this and start moving all of the HQ’s out of Ga and on up to Charlotte, etc. then all of the new Cotrices and small minds will shrink into the hole that they have dug. I am actually glad this happened so that the real face of the south will be seen by potential employers/ investors. Guaranteed losses for the region. Now just need to walk away from this house here and help you dig your graves.

Red Phillips

August 1st, 2012
12:36 am

I hope a real conservative primaries Deal and confronts him on his support of a tax increase. Deal promised he would not support any tax increases. He lied.

ray

August 1st, 2012
12:37 am

I voted for t-splost but was not all the way behind it….WE NEED MASS TRANSIT….NOW

Jack

August 1st, 2012
12:41 am

Well done Tea Party and anti-tax NIMBY’s (aka, Not In My Back Yard’ers). You got what you wished for. Don’t even think about complaining about that traffic jam you will inevitably sit in tomorrow morning on 400.

hiram

August 1st, 2012
12:42 am

Looks like a new company may be in the works – Perdue,Deal and Associates, LLC

“Perdue Partners, LLC is founded on rich experience and broad expertise in private industry, international economic development and commerce, and government.”

http://perduepartners.com/about/

Braves

August 1st, 2012
12:42 am

Can we get a MARTA station at Turner Field now? How come MARTA does’t go to Turner Field? I’m glad ya’ll voted no. What a total mess this was…

Yet Another Expert

August 1st, 2012
12:42 am

Who would have thought so many policy experts existed as anonymous commenters on the AJC? We’ve got all the answers right here.

Aaron Burr V Mexico

August 1st, 2012
12:43 am

Excellent. Its a win win for me. Deal and Reed get humiliated, and now OTP is gonna learn that when you elect a crook and then upset a crook, the crook is going to pay you back.

LOLZ.

Oh Atlanta won’t be happy either…but they elected Kasim Reed. Not much sympathy, but at least they’re better than OTP.

MichaelB

August 1st, 2012
12:44 am

If history is a guide, it is only logical that funding for education will again be reduced to pay for road improvements. Any time the state wants more money, they reduce education funding. Then he will get his road improvements, but education will again take a back seat. Got to feed your transportation buddies first, ya know. Bunch of stupid bubbas.

Not with our Money!

August 1st, 2012
12:47 am

I know it hurt, but thankfully, you can pick up Plan B when your local pharmacy opens in a few hours. No prescription needed.

curt

August 1st, 2012
12:49 am

Years of funds spent on things other than the reason they were approved has come home to roost. Thanks Sonny. Now we know that pig over the gold dome in your first campaign ad was really you. The future we’ll loose due to your corruption and mismanagement will give us plenty of time to “go fish”.