I hope metro Atlanta drivers paid close attention to Governor Nathan Deal’s “State of the State” address last week. If his words were any indication of what is important to the State of Georgia, your rides and out roads are a top priority.
After hearing clips of the speech on WSB Radio, I requested a written transcript. Of the 3835 words the Governor spoke, 1039 were dedicated to our roads and infrastructure. A full twenty seven percent of the words in the “State of the State” address were about us driving.
As Governor Deal starts his second and final term as our Governor, it is very telling that with no more elections to run, he views our roads and bridges with that much importance.
“Even a small boat conquering the sea must dock every once in a while,” Deal said. “We must therefore ensure that our network of bridges, roads and other vital infrastructure are well maintained and that the increasing transportation needs of our population are met. So, let me present to you our options.”
The Governor then addressed the three plans currently on the table to tackle the issues. The question, as always, is how we pay for these needed improvements.
To the Governor’s credit he did not shy away from a major hurdle: the decreasing amount of funds the state gets from gasoline taxes.
The excise tax, which is a per gallon flat fee, has remained the same since 1971,” Deal said. That’s 44 years. In that time, the fuel efficiency for the average vehicle has almost doubled, which means the amount of excise tax collected for each mile driven has roughly been cut in half.”
That number is likely to get worse
“And the federal government has mandated new standards that would again double the miles per gallon for the average vehicle over the next 10 years, meaning that the amount of excise tax collected for every mile traveled will continue to shrink every year,” Deal said.
According to the Governor the state collected approximately 17 percent less in state Motor Fuel Funds per capita for transportation than we did a quarter of a century ago, in part because of greater fuel efficiency.
Translation: the more efficient our vehicles get the less gas tax we pay, the less money we have to fix our roads.
Solution: Georgians may have to in the very near future get ready for a raise in our gasoline tax to keep our roads safe and sufficient.
Thankfully Governor Deal realizes the importance of this issue:
“We must maintain and improve our roads and bridges; we must provide congestion relief; and we must prepare for more freight and more businesses. We can debate how much it will cost to do something; but let us not forget how much it will cost to do nothing.”