Democrat demands special session for transit after Georgia highway meltdown

Democratic state Sen. Elena Parent took the surprising step of urging Gov. Nathan Deal to call a special session to pass a “meaningful transit funding bill” in the wake of one too many highway debacles.

There was no immediate public comment from the governor’s office, but suffice to say that he’s unlikely to take such a step.
Expect a new round of legislative debate next year over dedicated transit funding. House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle have both emerged as transit champions, and a lame-duck Deal might be more willing to stake his political capital on statewide funding for the projects.

Transit advocates came close in 2015, when $75 million in bonds for transit was used as a bargaining chip to earn Democratic support for a sweeping transportation bill. The new law, House Bill 170, provides about $900 million a year for road and bridge improvements, but it was criticized as an unnecessary tax hike by some conservative activists.

Still, the funding is a one-time commitment, and Georgia remains one of the few states that doesn’t provide regular funding for the vast majority of its transit operations. (The lone exception is the Xpress bus service by the Georgia Regional Transit Authority, which receives state subsidies.)

By the way, Atlanta’s spate of interstate disasters has prompted the photo- posted above – to zip around the halls of a certain Atlanta-based transit agency.

Insider’s note: This item was ripped and expanded from the Morning Jolt.

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