ATLANTA, GA – Governor Perdue today announced a comprehensive plan to provide additional resources to invest in Georgia's transportation network.
"The plan we are putting forth today is a departure from the traditional scheme of input-based accounting that seeks to measure effectiveness by expenditures," said Governor Perdue. "The old focus on counting the number of contracts and dollars spent has given way to a comprehensive investment strategy."
At today's announcement, Governor Perdue explained his support for new transportation funding comes after being convinced that the state's transportation governance system is functioning well, and is regaining the trust of Georgians. After reforms passed by the General Assembly last year, the statewide strategic plan now drives the decision-making process on how and when to make additional investments that deliver results.
The Governor said Georgia is now in a position to strategically target investment to fuel Georgia's job growth and to position the state as a national leader in economic recovery.
First, the Governor announced that his FY 2011 budget recommendation will include $300 million in bond projects for transportation. These projects are aligned with the statewide strategic transportation plan and will focus on projects of statewide significance. The Governor laid out a vision for committing a similar amount in future budgets, which could total as much as $3 billion over the next decade. The bonds will be paid back using state general funds rather than motor fuel taxes, which are declining at a time when transportation needs are increasing.
"This is the ultimate accountability system, the DOT will be responsible for delivering projects, and the legislature will answer to the voting taxpayers in deciding whether to continue making these investments," the Governor said.
He also said he would support legislation that would create special tax districts for transportation that mirror the state's 12 regional planning boundaries.
"These district lines are important because they recognize our state's regional business centers, and the areas from which those centers draw consumers," the Governor said. "This approach will mean dollars spent in a region remain in that region, and the projects will benefit the entire region."
Voters in each region will have the ability to decide on new transportation improvements by voting on a one percent sales tax. The transportation districts will enable a collection of counties to make strategic decisions that will produce growth in their region. The state's director of planning will work closely with local communities to create a project list for each transportation district. The project list will knit together transportation improvements that connect our cities and regions, making the movement of people and goods faster and more cost-efficient.
The Governor's proposal calls for a statewide vote to be held, with the voters in each transportation district considering their specific list. If the district votes yes, the additional sales tax collected in their district will be used to fund their list of projects. If the district votes no, the tax will not be levied.
Governor Perdue thanked members of the General Assembly that have worked hard on transportation over the past two sessions.
"The question has not been whether to invest in transportation, but whether or not we could get a return on transportation investment that the people of Georgia could support," the Governor said. "Thanks to the hard work of many, we are there now."