Senators want to allow local sales tax for transportation

ATLANTA - Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Thursday he wants to give local governments the ability to charge a one-cent sales tax that would fund transportation, including mass transit.

Voters would have to approve the local tax hike for their jurisdiction, according to a resolution Cagle filed in the Senate. Cagle's constitutional amendment would need approval from two-thirds of both chambers of the legislature and would also face a statewide referendum.

Under the plan, 80 percent of the money raised would go to the local governments for specified road projects. Ten percent would go to mass transit and another 10 percent would go to the state, where it could be used for transportation needs throughout the state, Cagle said.

The lieutenant governor said a key selling point is that voters would decide whether to tax themselves to ease their transportation woes.

'This does not force tax increase on any citizens in this state,' Cagle said at a Capitol news conference with senators who served on a study committee that looked at funding options.

A coalition of 50 business leaders, local government officials and mass transit advocates praised the plan.

'This development is a huge step forward in the transportation funding debate,' said Charles Tarbutton, assistant vice president of Sandersville Railroad Company and chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.