Georgia's Transportation Investment Act: Lessons Learned

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Part of a 3-part presentation given at a session of the 2013 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Examines the lessons learned from the implementation of the GA Transportation Investment Act.

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Georgia's Transportation Investment Act: Lessons Learned

  1. 1. Georgia’s Transportation Investment Act Lessons Learned TRB Annual Meeting January 2013
  2. 2. Agenda• What is the TIA?• Education• Transparency & Accountability• Challenges• Politics• Conclusions Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  3. 3. Why Does GA Need Money?• One of lowest motor fuel tax in nation• One of lowest per capita spending on transportation• 2009 Statewide Strategic Transportation Plan – $72 billion needed to fix burning issues, facilitate economic growth, and transform our transportation network Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  4. 4. Transportation Funding in GA• Federal Funds – Subject to congressional district balancing for equitable distribution• State Motor Fuel – Limited by law to highways and bridges – Subject to congressional district balancing for equitable distribution – LMIG is 10-20% of Motor Fuel Collections (FY13= $110M) • 10% match if tax passed, 30% match if it did not• General Fund – Transit, airports, rail, etc.• Local Funds (SPLOST, General fund, etc) Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  5. 5. Transportation Investment Act (TSPLOST)• 12 Special Tax Districts based on RC boundaries• Each District can levy 1% sales tax for 10 years (≈8%)• Exemptions: off road fuel, ATL jet fuel, motor fuel, Manf. Energy, transit fuel, >$5,000 car• Individual Counties cannot opt out• Money raised in District stays in District• Money is not subject to congressional balancing• Project Criteria established by Local Roundtable• Local Roundtables ultimately select projects• Vote will be Primary election of July 31, 2012• Funds start flowing in 1st quarter of 2013 Planning Organization Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan
  6. 6. Different Pots 75% Regional 25% (15%) Local 75% of the Region’s  25% (15%)of the Region’s proceeds proceeds Will be used to fund all  Formula based on proportion projects on the final project of population and centerline list approved by the road miles roundtable and ultimately  Discretionary transportation the citizens of the region money to be used for GDOT will be responsible projects like resurfacing for project delivery Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  7. 7. Ideas Behind the Bill• Allowed voters to implement tax, spent in their region, on projects selected locally• Carrot and Stick – Penalties (incentives) in Law acted as a stick to encourage passage Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  8. 8. The vote…• If the Voters do not approve the referendum then… – All local governments must match their state funds at a rate of 30%, wait 24 months to start process over• If the Voters do approve the referendum – All local governments must match their state funds at a rate of 10%, can use 25% local discretionary as the match – Citizen’s Review Panel Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  9. 9. County by County Vote Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  10. 10. Two Phases• Selecting Projects – Regional Transportation Roundtable – Local Elected Officials – Public Meetings – Champions• Referendum Education – Public Education – Overcoming Myths Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  11. 11. Follow-up Interviews• State DOT Board Members• Regional Commissions• Chambers of Commerce• MPOs• News Articles• Local Officials• Business Community Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  12. 12. Project Selection• Elected Officials vs. Planners• Significant Time Commitment• Fairness to all local governments – Donor Communities & Direct/Indirect Benefits• Focus on regional needs/connectivity• Local control by local elected officials – Too much input from DOT? – Sub-regions provide accountability• Champion to carry the message Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  13. 13. Public Education• Communicating ‘value for the money’ – Local SPLOSTs have traditionally done well with identified project lists• Is ‘tax’ a four-letter word? – Taxed Enough Already• Federal and State cubacks• Job creation did not resonate well – Did ARRA have anything to do with this? Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  14. 14. Public Education• Law was hard to understand, led to misinformation• Metro Atlanta vs. Rest of Georgia – Debate on all matters in Georgia• Just getting the word out, voters were confused, uninformed – Struggle to look beyond local boundaries• Proactive Involvement of Planners Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  15. 15. Transparency and Accountability• Law mandated transparency and accountability – Ability to overcome historical DOT mistrust – Opponents cited past trust issues with DOT• Lots of information available – Project lists, estimated revenue, etc. – Not all information matched Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  16. 16. Responding to Myths• Conspiracy theories and trust• Bad information kept spreading – Editorials, blogs, etc. – Hands off vs. Respond• Educating the public about transportation funding (sources, match rates, accounting, YOE, etc.) Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  17. 17. Challenges to Overcome• Idea of a new tax was a bigger issue than working in regions – Local elected officials found a way to work together• Skepticism over DOT accountability and transparency• Change the discussion – How transportation should be funded vs. current sources Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  18. 18. Politics of it All• Different political campaign strategies work in different areas of the state – Diverse/overlapping media markets – Is an “all of the above” approach right• Politics are local, different issues in regions• Unlikely Ally’s: Tea Party, Sierra Club, NAACP – Traditional Media and Social Media helped their message spread• Getting the business community involved• Was it poor timing economically? Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  19. 19. Conclusions• Local officials will work together – Regional Need vs. Local Wants – All roads are local – HOG paving list• New activist groups identified – Bring them to the table for long range transportation planning discussions• The public does not understand transportation funding – More transparent and accountable process Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  20. 20. Conclusions• Get the facts out there – Respond to myths and falsehoods • Directly or indirectly (social media works great) • Upfront, proactive communication with traditional media – One go-to source for facts • Include all of the information in all formats and methods• Changing the DOT Institution – Times have changed; trust, accountability, transparency Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  21. 21. Conclusions• Gave people the opportunity to know what the tax was for – Did the voters exercise that opportunity? – Was it explained well?• Misconception of penalty, failed to get attention of local governments/voters – How is transportation funded Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  22. 22. AJC Poll – Dec. 9, 2012• Strong distrust of all areas of government• Feel money is wasted• 2/3 + would pay a new fee/tax to reduce congestion, if a program is well designed• Who should control the money? – No clear preference (local, regional, state) – By a thin edge people preferred small groups of counties voluntarily working together – Want federal involvement least of all Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  23. 23. AJC Poll – Dec. 9, 2012• Strong suburban support for transit – 64% would pay a new fee/tax to create well designed public transit options to benefit the region• 79% said regional connections are strong Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  24. 24. Wrapping it All Up• Commitment• Recognized Funding Need• Trust• Transparency• Accountability• Public Education (Elected Officials)• Needs vs. Wants• Institutional Changes Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization
  25. 25. Questions? Corey Hull, AICP Valdosta-Lowndes MPOSouthern Georgia Regional Commission chull@sgrc.us 229-333-5277 www.sgrc.us/transportation Valdosta – Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization

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