The Georgia Assembly is still trying to raise money for state transportation projects, but a proposed funding bill overcame a major hurdle Thursday.
The Georgia House of Representatives passed HB 170 in a 123-46 vote. The approved legislation would raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually for transportation maintenance, but still less than the $1 billion to $1.5 billion the state claimed to need.
State Rep. Tom Kirby, R-Loganville, previously told The News the funding bill probably wouldn’t pass for the total amount needed, but rather be approved for at a lower rate with an idea to come back next year to work out another plan that will provided the state with the remaining cash needed.
The legislation would place an adjustable excise tax of 29.2 cents-per-gallon on motor fuel and 33 cents-per-gallon for diesel fuel.
It would also impose a flexible registration fee of $200 a year on private alternative fuel vehicles, including electric natural gas and propane, and $300 on similar commercial vehicles.
The state is also getting rid of its $2,500 and $5,000 tax credit on purchases or leases of low and no emissions vehicles – or electric vehicles – on or after July 1, 2015. Also, the bill does away with the state’s tax break on jet fuel.
The transportation funding bill initially received a lot of backlash from local government and school boards that said the bill would take funding away from them. Certain amendments to the bill have been made to counteract the losses.
The bill would let cities and counties jointly raise some forms of local sales taxes from 1 percent to 1.25 percent.
Out of Rockdale County’s six representatives in the House, two voted against the bill, State Rep. Pam Stephenson, D-Decatur, and State Rep. Dale Rutledge, R-McDonough, with State Rep. Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers, State Rep. Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia, State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, D-Lithonia and Kirby voting for it.
The bill now moves on to the Georgia Senate Mar. 9.
The Georgia Senate passed a billed Feb. 20 that could expand the definition of rehabilitation project to include surface transportation projects which could help local governments fix up areas deemed blighted or slummed.
Senate Bill 4 passed in a 43-3 vote. This bill could foster job creation and rehabilitation or urban redevelopment projects, while encouraging the utilization of public-private partnerships, according to a press release from the office of Republican Sen. Rick Jeffares.
The bill is currently making its way around the House.