New transportation bill draws controversy - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

New transportation bill draws controversy

ATLANTA, GA (WALB) -

State lawmakers say at least $1 billion in new revenue is needed to maintain Georgia's roads and bridges, but the measure continues to draw controversy over the idea of new taxes to fund it.

State Representative Jay Roberts chairs a committee that worked to study what is needed, and wrote the transportation funding bill that's being debated.

He said the state has 2,000 deficient bridges that families and school buses drive over everyday.

Citizens crowded the Capitol during Monday's hearing on the bill, filling every seat. An overflow crowd stood outside.

Roberts said the committee is willing to listen to anyone who will be constructed.

But local government leaders don't like the bill. They worry that they could be forced to increase property taxes because they could lose local sales taxes from fuel sales.

Cities and counties could later opt-in on a local gas excise tax, but that money would have to go to local transportation projects. There's no current plan to help school boards make up for the lost revenue.

Representative Darrell Ealum said he was concerned because school boards do not have a way to recoup that revenue.

The bill will go to the Transportation Committee on Thursday.

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