How’d they find $1 billion, with no tax hike? Hint: They didn’t

House Transportation Chair Jay Roberts, center, describes a new transportation funding proposal Wednesday as House Speaker David Ralston, right, and Majority Leader Larry O'Neal look on.  BOB ANDRES  / BANDRES@AJC.COM

House Transportation Chair Jay Roberts, center, describes a new transportation funding proposal Wednesday as House Speaker David Ralston, right, and Majority Leader Larry O’Neal look on. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

House Speaker David Ralston predicts that when it’s all done, the new transportation funding proposal floated this week will bring “our state into the 21st century,” providing an additional $1 billion for transportation without “an increase in state taxes on Georgians.”

That’s a neat trick: One billion dollars in new transportation money, without a tax hike? Really?

No.

Most of that money is generated through legislative sleight-of-hand. It takes somewhere between $550 million and $700 million a year in revenue sources traditionally used by local governments and converts that money into state transportation funds. In other contexts, you might call that stealing. In Georgia, it’s called leadership.

You know what happens next: Local governments, their finances strapped by the recession, will raise other taxes to close the gaping hole left by the state’s raid. But the onus of raising those taxes will be put on county commissions, school boards and city councils, not state legislators. The state gets the revenue; local officials get the heat. It’s beautiful.

Jay Roberts, chair of the House Transportation Committee, also argued Wednesday that the proposal represents an historic change in the state’s attitude toward transit, a word that he repeated for effect.

“I know that there’s some that heard me say ‘transit’,” he said. “We believe … it is time for the state to look at transit funding not only now but for the future.”

So let’s look at that future.

The proposal takes the current 4 percent sales tax on motor fuel — representing some $720 million to $800 million in revenue — and converts it to a motor fuel excise tax. While there are valid reasons for the change, it has profound implications for transit. In effect, it takes that $800 million — some of which might be available for future transit — and permanently reserves it for highways. (Under an archaic provision of the state constitution, motor fuel excise taxes can be used only on roads and bridges.)

True, the House does intend to levy a fee of $200 on cars fueled by electricity, propane or natural gas, and $300 on alternative-fuel fleet vehicles, with the revenue intended for transit. The fee itself is fair, given that such vehicles don’t pay motor fuel taxes, but the revenue generated by it will be tiny — probably less than $10 million, to be spent statewide. And even then, there’s no guarantee it will be spent on transit. The state code is strewn with fees that were supposedly earmarked for specific purposes — tire disposal comes to mind — but that legislators have hijacked for other purposes.

Roberts also held out the promise of transit funding in a “significant” new state bond measure. While that would be a welcome break from the state’s long-time hostility to transit, a short-term allocation does nothing to address the real issue: Transit cannot become a viable option in Georgia without its own long-term, dedicated funding stream.

At best, transit advocates are being tossed a few scraps and vague promises of better days ahead in return for their support for a plan almost exclusively weighted toward highways. While Georgia needs that highway construction, the “21st century transportation plan” touted by Ralston requires a balanced approach that this doesn’t come close to achieving.

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560 comments
_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

Our Georgia political landscape needs a little spice like they have in Oregon.

"This is not the first time Hayes' [The governor's fiance] past actions have drawn scrutiny. In October of last year, during her fiance's re-election campaign, she admitted to accepting around $5,000 in 1997 to marry an 18-year-old Ethiopian immigrant so he could receive a green card. Days later, reports surfaced that she had partnered with a boyfriend to buy land intended for an illegal marijuana growing operation. 

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

"little 4-cylinder car

Words that strike existential terror in the minds of so many."

Especially when they have a semi truck bearing down on them.


Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@_GodlessHeathen_ 

I remember my little '64 6-volt 4-cylinder VW Bug...

Thirty-eight horsepower, I think?  Ya'll don't know terror...!

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@_GodlessHeathen_

Especially when they have a semi truck bearing down on them. 

I know of no "little 4-cylinder car" manufactured in the last 20 years, that can't handle such issues with ease.

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

State "leaders" continue to hold their palms up to the public while leaving local jurisdictions holding the bag.

straker
straker

visual - "your diligence in defense of the willfully ignorant"


Keep telling yourself that, over and over.


Who knows?


In time, you might actually come to believe it.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@straker

In time, you might actually come to believe it.

Now you're resorting to claiming to be able to read someone's mind?

Not a good sign.


Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

By the way, I thought Republicans voted overwhelmingly against a new transportation tax when they voted down TSPLOST in most places.  I guess their elected ones did not get the result they had hoped for and had no other option but to raise the taxes themselves but in a way that they can claim is not really a tax hike, naturally.  Of course, their constituency will buy it.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@Numbers_R_Us  Well ya know they just found a billion dollars that apparently was just wasted before....so its found money.  What does Jay mean that it has to come from other sources? 


Okay now watch the cups and see if you can tell which one holds the ball. 

straker
straker

"renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws"


Molly White had better get used to waiting.


And waiting


And waiting


And waiting

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@straker

Your diligence in defense of the willfully ignorant is rather disturbing at times.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@Visual_Cortex @straker  Them are some real tolerant "Christians"  like the AFA desire for laws to require that anyone who comes to the US must become Christian

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Nick_Danger @Visual_Cortex @straker


To call that an act of "hate" you have to use quotes.  


Here's a real one:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAclQLHNjmc


What you find is that the acts of conservative "hate" you are so vigilant against, aren't violent or racist or anything other than expressing opinions you disagree with.  When real hate causes real atrocity--let's be honest: slaughter--our president draws "red-lines"  Ooooooooooooooooo,  

tireOfIt
tireOfIt

This is how important education is to cons:


The Governor of Wisconsin just cut $300M from its university system the day after he submitted a $220M proposal for a new sports arena

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

My daughter is very thankful to the lottery players.  She kept the Zell Miller HOPE scholarship for all four years of college and her little 4-cylinder car did an excellent job, although not as good as the family Prius-C, at keeping those gas taxes low.  Thank god she also chose to vote Democratic like us too. 

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@Numbers_R_Us Teach her to shoot and get her a concealed weapons permit and you'll have a well balanced daughter.

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@Numbers_R_Us @JohnBuck2  Hey well said...and more power to you...of course I choose to be able to protect my own family in the event a non racist cop isn't sitting in my driveway when someone breaks into my house meaning us harm...but you can congratulate yourself on standing by your principles if things go wrong.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@JohnBuck2 @Numbers_R_Us Up here in the north Georgia mountains, we only have to worry about the stray bullet from a hunter's rifle.  Most of the breakins tend to be family members stealing from their own in order to fund their meth habits...  Republicans and their freeeeeedom-loving kids.  What do you do with them.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnBuck2 @Visual_Cortex @Numbers_R_Us

Well, you wouldn't be among the "many" then.

I was going to put in a good word for Lotus, but I just checked and see that they're now putting V6s into their high-strung little critters. But for a very long time their four-bangers were world-class.

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@Numbers_R_Us @JohnBuck2 Personally I don't quite grasp the joy of huntin' and from my time in a patrol car (in front of the cage) those drug addicted kids pretty much cover the political spectrum.  What do you do?  You make sure they think twice about stealing from you...What else can you do?  You can have them locked up.  It'll be the worst 30 minutes of their life and they'll get out with a new supplier.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@JohnBuck2 @Numbers_R_Us Those kids may cover more of the political spectrum in other areas but up here in the north Georgia mountains, they are clearly majority Republican by a long shot.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@JohnBuck2 @Numbers_R_Us She thinks like we do in that part of what we pay taxes for is a police force to help keep us safe.  We prefer to save our extra money for more enjoyable things than an expenditure on expensive firearms and ammo.  Although we have no problem with Republicans blowing their paychecks on such items if it makes them feel safer.

skydog12
skydog12

@JohnBuck2 @Numbers_R_Us


...but you can congratulate yourself on standing by your principles if things go wrong.


****

Not principles.....facts.


Your family has a greater odds of shooting each other, rather than you shooting an intruder.


...but stand by your fears if things go wrong. BAM!....now how did that thing go off? I`m so careful and smart.

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

OH..Jay's just mad the top 10% of earners aren't having to pay for all the transportation costs.  

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@JohnBuck2 Last time I checked, they have never paid for all the transportation costs but do feel free to share the results of whatever study supports your claim.