The people, not politicians, should decide if they want to vote for a July 31 tax referendum to fund transportation projects, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said Tuesday in Augusta.
“I stand on letting the people make that decision. I think what’s important is that we have a process in place, that it’s worked,” Ralston said.
The Transportation Investment Act of 2010 divided the state into regions ,where roundtables of local government leaders and citizens developed a list of projects. Each region votes on the 1 percent sales tax.
“I think it’s important those decisions be made from the bottom up rather than be dictated from Atlanta and bureaucrats in Atlanta,” he said.
Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal held a press conference at Augusta Regional Airport speaking on issues facing the state. It was the seventh stop in two days made by Republican leaders who are flying around the state. Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, joined the Augusta stop.
Ralston said shortfalls funding and the state gas tax have limited Georgia’s investment in transportation. Economic development in Georgia will depend on transportation infrastructure, he said.
“In this economic climate we are in and probably will continue to be in for some years to come, governments’ budgets are going to be constrained,” he said. “Those dollars are truly stretched to the limit at this time.”
Addressing other issues, Ralston said he regrets the lack of preparation made by the Department of Drivers Services that caused long lines to form for people renewing their drivers licenses.
A new law went into effect July 1 changing the requirements to get a state driver’s license. Applicants must have an original or certified copy of their birth certificate, Social Security card and two forms of proof of address.
Ralston said the changes were made to comply with post-9/11 federal requirements.
“They are fixing the problem. It’s being fixed on a daily basis,” he said. “I regret the inconvenience some Georgians experienced,” he said.