The very real possibility that 2008 may be the year that Georgia takes a giant step forward toward finding solutions to its transportation woes has energized a statewide group of organizations committed to improvements.
The “Get Georgia Moving Coalition,” with more than 50 members representing general business associations, state and local elected officials, transit advocates, road builders and environmentalists, applauded the joint House-Senate Study Committee for its report stressing the need for new funding solutions for transportation.
According to Charles K. Tarbutton, assistant vice president of Sandersville Railroad Co. and 2008 chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the report is encouraging.
“The recommendations from the committee are the result of a lot of hard work and intensive study and the conclusion is that Georgia needs new and innovative funding solutions for transportation,” he said.
The state chamber is a member of the coalition and has made improving transportation statewide one of its top agenda items for 2008.
Georgia is the third fastest-growing state in the nation, yet it spends less than any other state on transportation infrastructure. This has resulted in a crisis in transportation, a multi-million dollar shortfall that threatens to cripple both new road construction and needed improvements.
Following the release of the study, George Israel, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber congratulated the lawmakers on their work.
“This clearly demonstrates that our elected officials understand the gravity of the situation we are facing, not just in Atlanta, but throughout the state. They have acknowledged that action is needed this year to both bridge the funding gap and invest in different modes of transportation,” Israel said.
The “Get Georgia Moving Coalition” is working with members of the state legislature to identify the best ways to capture new funding. Tarbutton believes that two existing options can be utilized to shape a solution.
“We should look at both last year’s statewide transportation sales tax bill and the regional transportation sales tax legislation and take the best ideas from each one,” he said. “Whatever we come up with, it’s essential that reform and funding not be delayed and that both proceed simultaneously. Even though it will take 18-24 months to make the Georgia Department of Transportation fully funded, there is much we can before than to improve the situation.”
The coalition emphasized that the voters must approve all decisions on new taxes and that any tax legislation have sunset provisions.
The Georgia Chamber is the grassroots voice of business, vigorously representing its diverse membership in the public policy arena. As it constantly works to protect Georgia’s enviable pro-business environment, the Georgia Chamber remains mindful of its mission to keep the state economically prosperous, educationally competitive and environmentally responsible.