Monday, January 26, 2009

Transportation top issue for State Senate

The Georgia State Senate is taking another crack at passing a transportation plan endorsed by Atlanta Business Groups.

The current plan is very similar to a proposal that failed in the Senate last year--- it would allow voters in regions to decide whether they would want a 1 cent transportation sales tax. Senate Republican Majority Leader, Chip Rodgers says the plan puts the power of funding transportation projects in the voters hands.

"We are certainly open to working with the house," Rodgers says. "If they have got a better plan, we’re all ears and, we’re certainly happy to incorporate it."

Last year The plan was criticized by some rural and conservative senators as a road to higher taxes. Those concerns helped kill that bill in the last hour of last year's session. Rodgers says he believes those concerns have been worked out.

Jeff Mullis agrees. The Republican state senator from Chickamauga says Senate Leadership is committed to passing the bill this year.

"You know, transportation is also the Lieutenant Governor’s priority in the General Assembly this year. He’s made no bones about it since the last session," Mullis says. " So hopefully with the Governor’s Office we’ll find a solution."

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle caught a lot of heat after the bill's failure last year. For it's part, the state House is now pushing a plan that is much more statewide in scope, but could make it harder to fund the metro atlanta projects. Rodgers says negotiations will continue through the session.

-By John Sepulvado

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