Transportation. Unless we in Georgia, and especially in metro Atlanta, can address our critical transportation needs, significant economic growth and job creation will be unattainable. Job centers, such as Buckhead, need better circulation within them and good connections to other job centers. Traditional sources of state and federal funding for transportation are in historically short supply, and House Bill 277, passed this last legislative session, provides regions in our state the opportunity to tax themselves an extra penny in sales tax to fund much needed transportation improvements. The bill is not perfect – legislation seldom is – and it is complicated and easily misunderstood, and people are already staking out positions on whether or not we should vote for the tax. Time out!
Here are the facts. We will have an opportunity in the 2012 general primary election to vote to tax ourselves an extra penny in sales tax over a 10-year period in order to fund a list of transportation projects that will be known to the voters. The tax in the 10-county Atlanta region is estimated to generate approximately $8 billion over the 10-year period and increase the pool of funds available to address all of our transportation needs. It will send a strong signal to the federal government that we are serious about addressing our needs, and help us leverage additional funding for the region.
Are there problems with the bill? Yes. But we have opportunities to address those problems and have input into the process and the project selection. And that is where our energies should be spent. More education is needed, and I, among many others, will be doing more to get good information “out there.” In the meantime, the folks at Association County Commissioners of Georgia did a good job back in June of summarizing the bill. Check it out. And stay tuned.