Transportation bill: All we could do, yet not nearly enough

traffic_study_vmed_6a_widec_oCongratulations are in order. I guess.

Last night, Georgia legislators were handed a brand-new transportation bill barely an hour before they were required to vote on it, a bill that had been drafted in secret and then handed to them as a finished product. They passed it.

With some $900 million in additional and much-needed annual funding for transportation, the bill does represent real progress. In fact, it’s fair to say that House Bill 170 is probably the most far-sighted, responsible transportation funding bill that the Georgia Legislature is capable of adopting.

And if that sounds like faint praise, it is. We’re caught in a situation in which the best that our legislators can do is not nearly enough. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the legislators themselves.

Before the General Assembly even began, the Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Funding released a report on the inadequacy of Georgia’s transportation funding.

“In order to merely preserve the current transportation system, namely the maintenance of roads and bridges at acceptable levels, the state has a funding gap of $1 billion to $1.5 billion annually,” the study committee stated.

To do more than merely preserve the status quo, to actually begin addressing the state’s critical transportation needs after years of neglect — “boosting regional mobility, increasing interstate highway capacity, expanding transit availability, improving intermodal options, and building new interchanges” — the committee found that the state would need $2.1 to $2.9 billion in additional revenue.

That committee was created by and led by legislators. In other words, by the standards that they themselves set, the best that they could accomplish still fell short of the minimum that they told us was necessary.

And the consequences of that failure? Again, let’s turn to the legislators’ own report:

“Without significantly increasing transportation spending to the levels identified above, Georgia’s existing transportation networks will deteriorate, the needs identified in the (state transportation plan) will go unmet, and Georgia’s longstanding position as a leader in transportation infrastructure and economic growth will erode.”

That’s where we are.

It’s also important to point out the poisoned apple that was amended into HB 170 at the last minute. As passed last night by both the House and Senate, the bill creates a “Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure” that is required to produce a tax-reform proposal in time for the 2016 session.

For years, Georgia Republicans have been trying to build the momentum and political courage needed to pass major tax reform along the lines of that enacted by Kansas. Their ideology requires them to believe that by eliminating or greatly reducing the state income tax, and by offsetting that revenue loss with a significant increase in the state sales tax, including a new sales tax on food, they can somehow turn Georgia into an economic dynamo. (The so-called “More Take Home Pay Act”, introduced earlier this year by the House Republican Caucus, shows you what such a plan would look like.)

Inevitably, that “tax reform” would shift billions of dollars in taxes away from wealthier Georgians, while raising taxes significantly on Georgia’s middle class and working people. There’s no legitimate dispute about that fact. And based on the experience of Kansas, it also won’t create the promised economic growth. Quite the contrary. The growth and additional tax revenue promised by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has never materialized, forcing the state to slash spending on education, transportation and other basic needs and leading both Standard and Poor’s and Moody to cut the state’s credit rating.

Until now, Georgia Republicans have lacked a mechanism that would allow them to ignore and overcome such objections to their plan. But HB 170 has real potential to change that.

Under the bill, tax-reform legislation drafted by the special tax reform committee would be put directly to a vote in the House and Senate next year. The legislative package could not be referred to or reviewed by any standing committee. It could not be amended in either chamber. Legislators would be required to vote yes or no on the entire proposal. In short, the process is designed to serve as a legislative freight train that will barrel through any and all opposition.

So we’ve also got that to look forward to.

 

Reader Comments 0

520 comments
bendedknee
bendedknee

1.06 billion dollars estimated  to fix the nightmare at 285 and 400 which has not been upgraded since 1960s. Genius governor cuts tolls as a revenue source and Feds have no money so please someone explain how 1 billion a year in money for infrastructure  and mass transit will pay for this???? Perhaps those clowns cannot do math down at the state capital?

I assume this is too complex for most on here.

notagain
notagain

Jesus said he never done anything in secret.Not the Jesus on here.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

I don't take heady's view that social benefit programs actually do that much good, but the intent is clearly there, whether the intent is genuine or, as in the case of obamadon'tcare, just something to cause trouble so you can have the socialism you want.

Still, the idea that fear motivated the welfare state is just ridiculous.

However, looking ahead at Greece and the rest of Europe--more advanced, shall we say, in the welfare states, it does become obvious that after a while, the state can not keep effectively adding lifestyle services effectively. When that happens, an overweight society unable to care for itself without the state (Greece) may actually get off its recliners and vote for a more socialist/communist government.

But the idea that anyone should fear Greece is laughable. 

Kamchak
Kamchak

APS verdict SHEETZ!

Posts about but...but...but...OBAMA ! soon to follow.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Kamchak 

Another half-thought from goat.  So, I'm curious what you think about the verdict.

Mind elaborating? 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@gotalife About time. They are trying ti hedge off minimum wage legislation they know is on the horizon.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@HeadleyLamar @gotalife 

so full of yourself about the positive effect of such legislation.  Mcdonalds is in trouble, and much of it has to do with the very high turnover of employees.  the higher pay, they hope will help turn their business around, along with the good press for leftist ears, like yours. 

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

Well, Republicans have finally come to their senses and are going to start telling the truth...


April fools!

LeninTime
LeninTime

Just a heads up to the liberals - when you have those among your ranks such as Headley who sneer at communism ( by the way, doesn't the right wing have enough power already without liberals joining in? ), it shows that even among the supposed 'left', where this should not be the case, ignorance of basic 20th century social history, and the history of social struggle, is rampant. 

If you don't know that one of the major reasons that the capitalist countries of Western Europe got universal health insurance and an extremely generous social safety net, especially generous in the countries of Scandinavia that directly bordered the Soviet bloc, was precisely because the existence of communism, along with the fear of revolution at home, COMPELLED the Western capitalist countries to offer major concessions to their workers, then you're kind of lost.

It was largely out of FEAR - of revolution - that drove them to those concessions. 

It was not out of the generosity of their hearts.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@LeninTime Just a heads up to the liberals - when you have those among your ranks such as Headley who sneer at communism


Communism deserves to be sneered at. It is evil, corrupt, and got the place in history it deserved. 


You yourself said you would rather have no choice ( communism ) than a false one ( Your cynical view of Democracy ) How incredibly stupid is that. 


I'm well aware of the role socialism played at the turn of the 20th Century. I've read The Jungle more than once. That wouldn't happen in a communist country. Only a free society such as ours.


And they didn't do it because they were compelled. FDR genuinely cared for his fellow man as do many Americans today. Rich and poor


You are a buffoon. The rest of your post is gibberish and unworthy of comment. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@consumedconsumer @HeadleyLamar Dismiss it if you like .


I acknowledge that Socialism played a part in changes that came about.


But they ALSO CAME ABOUT. Democracies allow for radical change at times. 


Anyone who feels communism is better can move to one if they wish. 


Ask the Koreans which system is better 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@HeadleyLamar 

Communism deserves to be sneered at. It is evil, corrupt, and got the place in history it deserved. 

***
And this right wing tripe from someone who claims to be of the left? Speaks volumes about the intellectual confusion plaguing the left today and it shows the utter bankruptcy of much of what passes today for liberalism. 

When you speak in a voice that echoes the excretions of some of the most right wing elements on this blog, you know you're way off course.


And they didn't do it because they were compelled. FDR genuinely cared for his fellow man as do many Americans today. Rich and poor

***

I can't let this claim go unchallenged as it is patently false. One of the most famous anecdotes of the Roosevelt presidency is about just that. After meeting with activists he said to them: "Ok, I'm convinced. Now make me do it." By which he meant, get your people out on the streets and create the pressure, to which I will then act.

So that directly contradicts what you said. 

As Howard Zinn wrote: 

Roosevelt came into office, you know, with a balance-the-budgets history. It was not clear what he was going to do, and I don't think he was clear about what he was going to do, except that he was going to be different from Hoover and the Republicans. But when he came into office, he faced a country that was on strike. He faced general strikes in San Francisco in Minneapolis. He faced strikes of hundreds of thousands of textile workers in the South. He faced a tenants movement and an unemployed council movement. And he faced a country in turmoil, and he reacted to it, he was sensitive to it, he moved. That's what we will need.



Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@LeninTime @HeadleyLamar "Ok, I'm convinced. Now make me do it." By which he meant, get your people out on the streets and create the pressure, to which I will then act.

So that directly contradicts what you said. 


You've convinced me your right.


FDR was an evil evil man who cared nothing for fellow Americans.


Only his fear of communist parties and revolutions forced him to change


Thank you for clearing that up. 


Please carry on comrade.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@HeadleyLamar 

FDR was an evil evil man who cared nothing for fellow Americans.

***
Did I say that he was an evil man who cared nothing for his fellow Americans? 

I said nothing of the sort.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@HeadleyLamar sorry, man, but you need to bone up on history more. Lenin's more right than you are on this topic. You may not like communism . . . or even socialism for that matter, but the very real choice that existed around the turn of the last century caused some radical social change during the first 50 years. Dismiss it if you like . . . but being dismissive just gives an opening to all those seeking to dismantle what many people's grandparents and greatgrandparents suffered hard and possibly died for. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@consumedconsumer @HeadleyLamar In fact in the Koreans we have a homogenous society where both systems have been used for the last 60 years or so.


A perfect test bed so to speak.


Which political ideology do you think is winning ?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@LeninTime @HeadleyLamar  Did I say that he was an evil man who cared nothing for his fellow Americans? 

I said nothing of the sort.


Sorry you cant have your cake and eat it too.


You certainly imply it. Or at the least say he would not have governed in their best interest unless FORCED to do so.


Which I don't agree with ..Move along comrade. 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@HeadleyLamar 

What laughable simple-mindedness. You somehow manage each time to lower my estimation of your intellectual capabilities.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@LeninTime @HeadleyLamar As do you comrade.


I've found those that put on an air of intellectualism as you do are usually your biggest morons. In other words overly trying to compensate for a lack of intelligence. 


Good day Comrade. 

Citizen-of-the-World
Citizen-of-the-World

Oh, the gutless wonders who are leading us backwards, and the mindless voters who continue to elect them to office. 

gotalife
gotalife

Take a good long look at congress without your partisan blinders.

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

KKKaptain-Shortypants,


I wasted my time searching the archive so that I could make up quotes?  You don't see the logical inconsistency there?

Regardless, you're a stupid-quote-a-minute kind of guy, so there's really no need to make anything up.

Your deflection, surrender, and obfuscation are all noted, runt.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Don't mess with this lib " runt."


You realize your argument loses a lot of credibility when you use stupid names, don't you? 


Or do you just not care to influence anyone and just make yourself feel better?


Feel better now?  Really?  Do you?  You called someone "runt", so you feel better?  Better than someone else?  On the internet?  Really? You need to repeat it because that good feeling only lasts a tenth of a second and you have to call people names again? Feel better?  For how long? 


Now I feel better. :) 

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

ESPN Hosts: Indiana RFRA Discriminatory Unless It Discriminates For Sexual Orientation

Where is ESPN headquartered?

Connecticut.

Which has a RFRA of their own.

Of course, he should be forgiven.  Apparently, the Connecticut governor didn't know, either.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@DownInAlbany 

Does the Connecticut law allow "religious freedom" as a defense against discrimination lawsuits, as the Indiana law appears to do?

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

@DownInAlbany

THEY ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT FARGIN' RFRA'S.  AS IN: TOTALLY FARGIN' DIFFERENT.


If Pence had signed into law a RFRA that was identical to the federal one, it wouldn't be a fargin' issue.