Gov. Nathan Deal gave a boost to a possible metro Atlanta transit expansion Tuesday, announcing the state will borrow up to $100 million for mass transit projects.
The $100 million in transit bond money is included in the governor’s 2019 budget. It’s not clear from the announcement how the money will be spent.
“In keeping up with the demands of a 21st-century economy and workforce, and in agreement with House and Senate leadership, we are allocating $100 million in bonds for transit funding,” the governor said in announcing the funding. “This investment will go a long way in reforming and addressing our transit system needs. Pending passage of a transportation bill I can sign, this funding will go into effect.”
Deal’s announcement comes as a conference committee is hashing out legislation that could pave the way for the biggest transit expansion in metro Atlanta in decades.
House Bill 930 and Senate Bill 386 would allow 13 metro counties to impose transit sales taxes of up to 1 percent. The bills also would create a board to oversee transit construction and funding in a 13-county area.
The board would have the final say over the project lists that any county submitted for voter approval. Significant state funding of mass transit – the kind Deal announced Tuesday – would be a big incentive for counties to participate.
Georgia ranks 27th among states in transit funding – spending about $14.5 million annually. In 2015 the state allocated $75 million in one-time grants for transit capital improvements.
Deal also announced other budget initiatives, including an additional $167 million for K-12 education.
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