As Georgia’s General Assembly considers transportation funding — the many benefits of a “statewide” rail transportation tax & amendment must be considered.
FIRST: The “new” GRTA (Georgia Rail Transportation Authority) would have a dedicated source of funds to leverage federal dollars for rail capital improvements. Currently, the federal government is funding 100% capital costs when the requesting state can prove their ability to fund “operations’ expenses.
GRTA could further leverage the stream of income by selling bonds to fund initial construction costs to build out the rail system in Georgia. (rail lines not covered by federal programs)
SECOND: Georgia can leap ahead of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida to become the most progressive transportation state in the south eastern US. This would place Georgia, again, at the transportation center not just for the nations’ interstate highway system and the air transport system; but also, passenger/freight rail system.
THIRD: With rail funding – GA can lead the south east by choosing the rail, rail car, and service technologies of the future. The first state to build out its rail system will dictate the routes connecting to their surrounding states.
FOURTH: As ravenous, obsessed and addicted as GDOT is to building roads; a constitutionally dedicated source of funds would make GRTA as ravenous, obsessed and addicted to bringing rail out the ground and into service in the State of GA.
FIFTH: Building rail lines would be welcomed by the Environmental Protection Agency. With firm rail plans in development/operation – road building might be allowed to resume in pollution non attainment areas in Georgia. (Currently, all of Metro Atlanta)
SIXTH: With dedicated transit funding, GRTA could allocate part of their funding to municipal/county/regional mass transit systems around the state. Cash strapped transit system operators would welcome a state agency where they could obtain financial assistance with building/operating their individual transit systems.
SEVENTH: When future oil shortages, price hikes of gas and inclement weather occur – Ga’s rail transportation system would work flawlessly to move passengers and freight seamlessly throughout the state.
EIGHTH: Georgia’s political leaders will not have to worry about annual budgeting for rail transportation improvements. In an era of ever decreasing state budgets; the sale’s tax generated for GRTA is exactly the funds GRTA has to build/operate/maintain GA’s rail transportation system.
FINAL AND BEST: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT JOBS,JOBS, and more JOBS – If GA is first to bring its rail transportation system out of the ground. Part of the negotiations with rail equipment manufacturers would be to bring their manufacturing facilities to the state.
Surrounding states will have to follow suite for their interstate trains to traverse Ga’s rail system. Most likely, the rail equipment manufactured right here in Georgia, would be exported and utilized by those states – bringing more & secure jobs, higher incomes and higher tax revenues to GEORGIA!
Over 30,000 individuals work at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. Multi-Modal Passenger Facilities (MMPFs) located in the central business districts of Atlanta, Columbus, Augusta, Macon, Albany and Athens would provide employment opportunities for many Georgians for the foreseeable future.
Construction employment would increase drastically with the building of the MMPFs, rail stations, train lines, tunnels, bridges and highway overpasses. Thousands of construction jobs would remain from continued rail operations and maintenance. These are all jobs which can not be exported to another country, state or region.
The above are just a few of the many benefits dedicated funding for rail transportation system development/operations will bring to Georgia!
When GA’s voters are educated about the many benefits of funding GA’s “new” rail transportation system — GA voters will understand the necessity of approving the sale’s tax increase and the constitutional amendment.