"This was the one bite at the apple," he said. "And I'm glad the General Assembly had the courage to do that," he said. "And I think, looking back, we'll all be glad that we did. We are not going to be a state that's behind the curve."
The compromise that emerged late Tuesday fell short of the $1 billion annual threshold that Deal and other GOP leaders set for the plan, though Deal said he was satisfied thanks to one-time bonds of roughly $175 million that push the total above $1.1 billion.
How it got there came as a surprise. The deal included new $5 fees tacked onto hotel and motel stays that has infuriated the hospitality industry. Lawmakers settled on the surcharge aimed at out-of-towners rather than tack on new fees for rental cars. Deal urged hoteliers to hold their complaints.
"People wouldn't come to their places of businesses if they didn't have a good way to get there," he said. "Do they want to collect that extra $5? Maybe they don't. But a lot of people who check into hotels and motels probably wonder about some of those other add-on charges over and above the cost of the room itself."
Deal praised lawmakers for stomaching tax increases despite critics who cast the plan as a massive tax increase and said he would pitch it as a public safety necessity at gatherings around the state.
"It would be a great tragedy if we had an accident with a school bus on a deteriorating bridge. There would be no logical explanation as to why that happened," he said. "This would allow us to fix those bridges and make those repairs. And it simply says Georgia is a state that's growing."
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