Friday, June 4, 2010

Governor Perdue Signs Transportation Resource Plan

Governor Perdue today (June 2) joined Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston to sign legislation that will result in a comprehensive plan to provide additional resources to invest in Georgia’s transportation network.

“We have worked extremely hard to bring a level of accountability never seen before in our transportation planning process,” said Governor Perdue. “Now, voters in each area of the state will have a chance to approve a plan that meets the needs of their area of the state while also connecting to the state’s transportation network.”

Governor Perdue’s support for new transportation funding follows passage and successful implementation of Senate Bill 200, which transformed the state’s transportation governance system. Governor Perdue also today signed the statewide strategic transportation plan, which is now driving the decision-making process on how and when to make additional investments that deliver results.

“A year ago we passed Senate Bill 200, a meaningful transportation planning component for the entire state,” said House Speaker David Ralston. “The funding bill signed into law today completes the circle and positions our transportation policy well into the future. The bi-partisan, inclusive leadership by members of the General Assembly, Governor Perdue, Lt. Governor Cagle, and others throughout the state who helped craft this landmark legislation shows that our state remains serious about competing for jobs and improving the quality of life for our citizens.”

“Today is a testament to how important the issue of transportation is to our state and how committed we were to working together to agree on a solution that will bring results,” said Lt. Governor Cagle.    “I want to thank Governor Perdue and Speaker Ralston for their commitment and dedication to stay at the table and accomplish this for Georgia.  I especially want to thank Sen. Jeff Mullis for his leadership in the Senate and hard work on this issue.  This bill allows us to tell people and businesses that are looking to move or relocate their company to Georgia that we have a plan to fix transportation and that we are serious about addressing these issues.”

The final version of House Bill 277 creates special tax districts for transportation that mirror the state’s 12 regional planning boundaries.

“These district lines are important because they recognize our state’s regional business centers, and the areas from which those centers draw consumers,” the Governor said. “This approach will mean dollars spent in a region remain in that region, and the projects will benefit the entire region.”

Voters in each region will have the ability to decide on new transportation improvements by voting on a one percent sales tax. The transportation districts will enable a collection of counties to make strategic decisions that will produce growth in their region. The state’s director of transportation planning will work closely with local communities to create a project list for each transportation district. The project list will knit together transportation improvements that connect our cities and regions, making the movement of people and goods faster and more cost-efficient.

The bill calls for a statewide vote to be held, with the voters in each transportation district considering their specific list. If the district votes yes, the additional sales tax collected in their district will be used to fund their list of projects. If the district votes no, the tax will not be levied.

Governor Perdue also thanked members of the General Assembly that have worked hard on transportation over the past two sessions.

“The question has not been whether to invest in transportation, but whether or not we could get a return on transportation investment that the people of Georgia could support,” the Governor said. “Thanks to the hard work of many, we now have a plan in place that meets that goal.”

“We are proud of the leadership shown by the Governor and the General Assembly this year,” said Dave Stockert, President & CEO of Post Properties and chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s transportation policy committee. “The business community is ready to support the transportation referendum in every way possible as we move into the next phase of this process.”

“Investing in Georgia's transportation infrastructure is critical to our long term economic health,” added Phil Jacobs, chair of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Committee. “We are pleased that this legislation will allow every region of our state to have a voice in what those investments will be and that it will provide a mechanism to improve upon our state’s many transportation assets.”

Earlier this year, the Governor announced that his FY 2011 budget recommendation included $300 million in bond projects for transportation. These projects are aligned with the statewide strategic plan and focus on projects of statewide significance. The General Assembly included $200 million in transportation bond projects in the final FY 2011 budget. This bond funding will allow Georgia to strategically target investment to fuel Georgia’s job growth and to position the state as a national leader in economic recovery.

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