ATLANTA (February 3, 2009) – The State Senate today passed the most sweeping form of transportation legislation in Georgia’s history. Authored by Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) will fund much needed, long-term transportation infrastructure across the state, strengthening Georgia’s competitive edge in a global economy.
“The time is now to implement a true infrastructure stimulus. Traffic congestion stifles economic growth, hinders businesses, and costs jobs. Georgia cannot continue to suffer such losses in the current economic climate,” said Sen. Mullis. “Passing this bill now gives us the chance to educate the public on its benefits before they are faced with a vote on the November 2010 ballot.”
This voter-approved transportation funding enhancement will allow counties the option to band together to levy a one percent sales tax to fund transportation projects in their district. The bill creates only one defined region – 10 County ARC Region (Cherokee, Douglas, Fulton, Fayette, Clayton, Henry, Rockdale, DeKalb, Gwinnett, and Cobb). Other counties around the state have the option to be individual regions or come together as larger regions with local approval. They may also opt not be a TSPLOST region at all. Offering a flexible solution to meet the diversity of needs across the state, the measure allows voters to also decide what projects in their area need funding the most.
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle offered his support of the bill by saying, “Our statewide, regional approach is a flexible and optional solution for Georgia allowing for true local input and influence of transportation projects. Just as our state has many diverse transportation needs, a funding mechanism should respect the diverse regional needs.”
Many lawmakers are looking to transportation this session as a means of jump starting the economy. The TSPLOST will generate up to $850 million in funding each year for the metro Atlanta area, and up to $1.2 billion for the entire state. Contributing to transportation infrastructure will produce jobs and a better economy, capitalizing on the relationship between transportation development and economic growth. Sen. Mullis noted that due to the severe traffic congestion, Georgia has already lost $185 billion in infrastructure, along with several Fortune 500 companies.
There was a strong showing of bi-partisan support for the measure as Senators from both sides of the aisle took the floor to urge passage of the bill. Senate Resolution 44, the Constitutional Amendment, and its enabling legislation Senate Bill 39 passed overwhelmingly, becoming the first major piece of legislation to pass through the Senate for the 2009 Legislative Session. The bill now moves to the House, where it will first be debated in committee.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to finally pass the transportation relief that we have been working on for the past three years,” Sen. Mullis added. “This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, this is a Georgia issue. There is not a single city or county in the state that does not need transportation improvements.”