As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week, Georgia's next governor will have some big transportation decisions to make – decisions that will affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of Georgia residents.
The candidates – Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp – say more must be done to tackle traffic and improve transportation across the Peach State. But they offer different visions of what should be done and how to pay for it.
The AJC asked each candidate questions about transportation issues and received written responses. Here are Kemp's responses. You can read Abrams' responses here.
Do you support dedicated state funding of mass transit construction or operations? What source of revenue?
As Governor, when proposing new projects, taxes, or incentives my first two questions are going to be “What is the cost?” and, “Who is going to pay for it?”. I believe a successful transit infrastructure should be a public-private partnership – and it should benefit the entire state.
In 2015, Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly approved $75 million in bonds for one-time grants for mass transit capital projects. This year they provided $100 million in bonds, all of which went to construction of bus rapid transit facilities on Ga. 400. Do you support continued bonding for mass transit capital construction? How would you select projects?
As Governor, I will continue this investment in targeted projects to alleviate congestion across the state through successful public private partnerships, like we have seen with the BRT lanes up GA-400.
This year the governor and the General Assembly approved HB 930, which created the ATL Board and allowed 13 metro Atlanta counties to raise sales taxes (with voter approval) for transit construction and operations. Do you support that legislation? Would you like to see any revisions?
Yes. Speaker Ralston, and Chairmen Kevin Tanner and Brandon Beach worked tirelessly to get this legislation passed. They successfully brought all parties to the table to negotiate a bill that’s going to bring a semblance of structure to the metro-Atlanta region’s transit planning.
The House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding continues to study rural transit issues. Are you inclined to support additional legislation addressing transit funding and governance in rural Georgia?
Rural Georgia’s transit needs are vastly different from that of metro-Atlanta’s, but I trust the Speaker, Chairman Tanner, and the Commission to do as they did with the creation of the ‘ATL’ and bring all parties to the table to discuss the issues that rural Georgia faces. Then, we can decide how to craft a solution to help rural Georgia.
Last year the state auditor found GDOT's project selection process should be more rigorous. Do you support legislation requiring GDOT to use cost-benefit analyses to select and prioritize projects?
I am aware and understand that GDOT’s Planning Division uses cost-benefit analysis. They balance that analysis with federal and state requirements on use of funds. I have and will continue to support prioritizing projects that move the needle and further efforts to streamline federal regulations to empower Georgia to have greater say on federal funds.
The audit found many local officials believe politics – rather than objective criteria – plays a significant role in project selection. Would you de-emphasize politics in the selection of road projects for state funding? How? How would you increase confidence in the state’s selection process?
I have spent the last 18 months campaigning for Governor on a platform that puts Georgians – not the status quo or special interests – first. Projects should be prioritized on their benefit for Georgians by improving the movement of people and goods to improve quality of life and grow the economy. I will continue to build on the efforts of transparency in government to ensure accountability and increase confidence.
Do you support all the projects on Georgia’s Major Mobility Investment Program? Would you re-examine the project list?
Yes, I support the MMIP.
Each year since the General Assembly approved HB 170, there have been efforts to repeal some of the revenue streams it includes to support highway and bridge construction. Would you support repeal of any of these revenue streams? Which ones?
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution