Week Two Legislative Update

Week Two Legislative Update
January 17-21, 2011


Georgia General Assembly Has Budget Recess Week

The second week of every legislative session is reserved for joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearings.  No legislative days from the 40 day legislative calendar were expended this week.  The heads of every department in state government made presentations and answered questions about their existing fiscal year 2011 and upcoming fiscal year 2012 budgets before the joint committee.  The legislators also heard from the state economist about the future growth of the state’s economy and state revenues. 

The proposed state budget for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1, 2011, as well as the amended fiscal year 2011 state budget, can be found on the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget’s website at http://opb.georgia.gov/02/opb/home/0,2817,161890977,00.html

RBC meets with GRTA and MARTA on Transit Governance Issue

While the RBC and numerous other business, civic and community organizations are actively pursuing the education and “get out the vote” efforts for the 2012 Regional Transportation Sales Tax, one issue that remains unresolved is the transit governance issue.

Transit governance affects every RBC county.  Transit governance deals with the management and oversight of transit services throughout the metro Atlanta region.  Cobb Community Transit (CCT), Gwinnett County Transit (GCT), GRTA, GDOT, MARTA, Buckhead Uptown Connection (BUC), ARC and numerous other governmental and for-profit transit service agencies and companies provide or manage transit services that intertwine and overlap each other throughout the metropolitan Atlanta region.  Sometimes these entities interconnect and/or communicate with each other.  Sometimes they do not.

HB 277 established a “Joint Transit Governance Study Commission” to provide recommendations to address metro Atlanta’s transit governance issues prior to August 1, 2011.  Those recommendations will most likely include a method to efficiently manage the provision of the multitude of transit services throughout the region. 

The interconnection of transit services should have a goal to provide seamless movement between transit providers either thru the coordination of services or possibly the consolidation of services.  Whichever direction taken could require additional funds, redirection and management of existing funds and/or the establishment of a regional transit governing board that would provide for “fair and equitable representation from the communities and residents which make up the region.”

By law the Executive Committee of the Regional Transportation Roundtable (RTR) must provide a list of transportation projects to the whole membership of the RTR by August 15, 2011.  If the metropolitan Atlanta region is to provide “efficient and cost-effective management” of transit services then recommendations of who and how those transit services will be provided must be resolved prior to the adoption of any project lists by the RTR. 

The RBC strongly believes that fifteen days (August 1 to August 15) is not sufficient time for the Executive Committee to make funding suggestions to the RTR to address any of metro Atlanta’s transit governance recommendations being proposed by the Joint Transit Governance Study Commission. 

The RBC is taking a leading role in attempting to reach a consensus on regional transit governance so the appropriate allocation between investments in transit, highways and other transportation improvements are included in the regional transportation investment project list which will be submitted to the voters in 2012.

The preliminary report of the “Joint Transit Governance Study Commission” can be found at http://actnowga.org/Documents/Transit%20Governance%20Preliminary%20Report%20FINAL.pdf

Have a great week.

This update is provided to Chamber members by the Government Affairs Committee and the Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta, RBC is an organization of over a dozen local Chambers of Commerce throughout the metro Atlanta region.  The RBC’s primary goal is to represent the interests of RBC Chamber members on regional public policy issues impacting our transportation, water and air quality and to advocate for solutions that improve metro Atlanta’s quality of life and economic vitality.  This weekly update is prepared for RBC member Chambers by Terry Lawler, RBC Executive Director, who can be contacted at tlawler@rbcatl.com or 770-310-1864.

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