Thursday, March 5, 2009

Musings from the Dome

Some goings on at the Dome that have local relevance:
  • Heard from a source at the Dome yesterday who assured me that the House Leadership and others are working aggressively to break the logjam on transportation. It gives me a little more hope than I had on Tuesday that something may happen. My friend said that he has never seen the spirit of cooperation down there the way it is right now, and that's great. But cooperation alone ain't gonna cut it -- someone is going to have to seriously budge to make something happen in the waning days of the session, as the Governor is using his SRTA/GRTA act as a litmus test for passing the funding bills. My big wish is that the Governor hadn't thrown the "new governance" stink bomb into the mix this year, as transportation reform was complicated enough with competing funding bills. My opinion: we should tackle funding this year (recognizing it will be voted on in 2010 and a lot of voter education will be necessary for either TSPLOST or a statewide sales tax) and reform governance next year. My preference is still the statewide bill, which will help quickly implement some of the major improvements (rail, freight, ports, highways, transit) that we need, but I could live with any reasonable compromise that provides dedicated funding, and I think most Georgians could too. Opponents are attempting to use references to underground tunnels and the northern arc in the statewide bill to gin up opposition, but it is important to note that these are proposed as public-private ventures, not paid for with the sales tax funds. Note also this op-ed on transportation from the Rome News Tribune, always one of the state's more thoughtful publications.
  • One has to wonder if the Governor has an axe to grind against hospitals after yesterday's announcement and his earlier attempt to increase taxes on their revenues. Is there some sort of massive largess in our system that I am missing? This whole discussion hearkens back to my earlier point about cutting the state budget -- in my opinion, cutting around the edges just makes everything weaker. Look, we all know this is a TOUGH budget year. However, as I said in January, I wish we could cut off entire portions of the government instead and retain funding for transportation, healthcare, and education -- the things Georgians and local governments can't fund themselves. David Shafer, I might be coming around to your way of thinking on the budget process.
  • I am pleased that Austin Scott is talking sense to his Republican colleagues in the House. Why do they keep trying to tell local governments how to do business? How would Georgia Republicans respond if the Feds told them how much they could tax, what they could spend it on, and where their employees need to live? It makes no sense, and the Brunswick News agrees (story at left -- wish I could link to their editorials) -- I just wish Jerry Keen and Chip Rogers (see comments below) would listen to them.

1 comment:

Cody said...

Just curious: any idea if the 22 tax delinquents in the General Assembly are involved on the transportation bill?

Also, saw that Brian Kemp announced for Secretary of State.