BRADENTON, Fla. — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he supports a "landmark transportation bill" that will bring as much as $900 million in needed funding for state road work.
"Georgia's legislators demonstrated leadership, foresight and courage as they took the tough but much needed steps to pay for our ever-growing transportation needs," Deal said April 1, a day before the scheduled end of the General Assembly's annual session. "I look forward to signing this legislation into law."
House Bill 170 will change the calculation of the state's gas tax, which has stayed the same since the early 1970s.
The bill phases out the state's 4% sales tax on gas, and raises the excise tax to 26 cents per gallon of gasoline and 29 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. Excise tax collections will be dedicated to transportation funding, and future rates will be linked to the Consumer Price Index.
HB 170 will also add new registration fees on vehicles fueled by electric, gas and propane, including hybrids, and eliminates sales tax exemptions on jet fuel used by certain air carriers, including Atlanta-based Delta Airlines.
On July 1, hotel and motel rentals of less than 30 days will be charged $5 per night with proceeds going to state road projects.
While the bill raises new funding sources for transportation, the state also expects to issue bonds for certain projects.
The measure also provides for the creation of special districts to fund bus or rail mass transit services. Funding would come from a special purpose local option sales tax that could only be imposed after a referendum.
The transit district provision applies to counties, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
With an estimated $1 billion in needs, transportation funding was a priority for Deal and the Legislature this year.
"Transportation is a huge point of concern for businesses that we court to Georgia, and addressing those needs is one of many tough tasks we must perform to rev up our jobs engine," Deal said. "In addition, this is simply a safety and quality-of-life issue for Georgians, who rightly want less time stuck in traffic and more time at home with their families.