This is the Legislative Week 2, 2015 Edition of the Council's "Under the Gold Dome," a weekly publication covering the 2015 Georgia General Assembly Session. As a reminder, this publication comes out each Friday during the Session.
We will include weekly updates on the happenings in the General Assembly, analysis of legislation and topics of interest to Council Members on legislation "Under the Gold Dome," as well as updates from the Senate Press Office, House Communications Office and bill summaries from the Senate Research Office.
This week focused on the Budget, which saw presentations to the Joint Appropriations Committee by the Governor and state agencies. You can view the Governor's budget proposal HERE
. There are many notables within the budget, but one that stood out was a slight decline in the Motor Fuel Tax collections from 2012-2014, with an estimated decline in 2015-2016 by $8 million dollars. The Goevrnor however, has proposed almost $18 million dollars for road and bridge projects, inclduing $6 million for the I-285/400 interchange project.
A transportation bill is expected to be introduced next week in the House, which could include a proposed one-cent statewide sales tax, estimated to raise $1.4 billion dollars annually, according to the Joint Transportation and Infrastructure Report, and raising the motor fuel tax, which if implemented at a rate of 10 cents per gallon, is estimated to raise an additional $600 million dollars for GDOT.
House Bill 60, introduced by Cobb State Rep. Ed Setzler, proposes to reallocate the 4th penny on the gas tax to the GDOT and gradually increase the excise tax on motor fules. currently at 7.5 cents per gallon, 3 cents each year, to 22.5 cents per gallon by 2022. The propsal also includes a reduction in the state income tax from 6% to 5.5% by 2022.
However, a state-wide poll of 800 Ga. voters, released by Landmark Communitcations this week saw opposition to an increase in the state gas tax by a 60-20 percentage margin (with 16% undecided); a statewide sales tax increase to fund maintenence of roads and bridges of 1% was opposed by a 52-32 percentage margin (with 15% undecided) and when asked if voter would support an increase in the gas tax if offset by a reduction in the state income tax, voters only supported with a 35-31 margin, with 35% undecided. You can view the crosstabs and breakdown by race, age and political affiliation HERE
. One glimmer of hope offered in the poll, was support for for more funding for mass transit improvements
, by a 40-37 margin (with 22% undecided).
As the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker stated last week, Georgia cannot "do nothing" on the issue and tough choices will need to me made in order to fund the $1.5 billion needed for transportation and infrstructure needs. Georgia is an international hub for business and with the deepening of the Savannah Harbor, can only expect to increase the state's international presence for shipments, and usage of our infrstruture state-wide. The Metro Region severely needs congestion relief and the Council supports any measure that fully funds transportation and infrstruture needs, including expansion of mass transit and options such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and relif such as the 1-285/400 interchange improvements and managed lanes.
For those who may not remember, Council Board Member and State Senator Brandon Beach showed why the region desperately needed to address the antiquated system we currently have in place in a You Tube video which I reccomend viewing below:
|Senate Study Committee on Metro-Atlanta Transit|
Look for the next Under Gold Dome on January 29th for a recap of the Week.
The House and Senate have also set a schedule that has them in Monday - Wednesday next week and Monday - Thursday the week after, putting the Session at Legislative Day 15 on Thursday, February 12.