Road tax measures die in Georgia

| Monday, April 09, 2007

A failed effort in the Georgia General Assembly sought to allow local governments to partner for transportation projects with a 1 percent sales tax. A more far-reaching effort also failed to gain approval.

The bills were sidelined after legislative leaders in the state opted to put the brakes on tackling transportation funding until next year, the Gwinnett Daily Post reported. They said more time is needed to work out plans.

The issue of transportation funding took on greater urgency late last year when the Georgia Department of Transportation revealed the state faces a $7.7 billion six-year shortfall in money available for needed road and transit projects.

To address the need for more transportation funds, Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, offered a bill – HB434 – that would have authorized two or more county or municipal governments to plan transportation projects that cross county lines. The work would have been done with a 1 percent local option sales tax or up to a 10 percent local per-gallon fuel tax rate.

Voters in the participating regions would have decided on the sales levy by referendum.

An alternative effort – HR509 – offered by Rep. Vance Smith, R-Pine Mountain, called for a voter referendum on a statewide 1-percent sales tax to pay for a different set of transportation initiatives, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Revenue from the local tax proposal was estimated at about $9 billion during the next 10 years. Transportation work would include new roads and expanded mass transit.

Smith’s statewide plan was touted as a way to raise about $22 billion during the next decade. Projects mentioned for funding include tollways, pay-as-you-go underground tunnels in Metro Atlanta and paving dirt roads.

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