Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle predicted Tuesday that correcting the problems at the Georgia Department of Transportation and finding additional sources of funding could be a two-year process.
Cagle met with reporters in his Capitol office to discuss issues likely to come up during the 2008 session of the General Assembly, which begins Jan. 14.
"The process, in my mind, is first to insure we’re getting the proper efficiency within the department," Cagle said. "The second piece of that is we need a statewide transportation plan that meets the needs of the state. The third component is a funding source to assure that the plan is executed."
Cagle said one proposal is for a "T-SPLOST," a special purpose sales tax for local and regional transportation programs. He said such a plan would have to go before voters in next year’s general election and then the legislature would have to write the enabling legislation.
That process would take approximately two years, which Cagle predicted would be about the same time the DOT gets its organizational problems corrected.
He said that the inefficient operation at the DOT was adding approximately 30 percent to the cost of road projects in Georgia.
"You’ve got some structural problems within DOT," Cagle said, adding that departments within the agency were not communicating with one another.
"We are appropriating more money to the Department of Transportation than ever before," he said. "In some cases, because of inefficiency, they have not been able to do all the projects that we have funding for."
Cagle also said the legislature is likely to take up some form of tax-related legislation this session. He said he has not expressed an opinion on Speaker Glenn Richardson’s GREAT plan, which is still undergoing changes. Richardson initially proposed a complete elimination of state and local ad valorem taxes to be replaced by a sales and use tax.
Cagle said he is concerned about the dramatic jump in property tax assessments for Georgia homeowners.
"Property taxes have been growing at a rate that is higher than inflation and population," Cagle said. "The Senate will be very active in trying to create a uniform system relative to assessing property."
On the subject of presidential politics, Cagle said he does not plan to make an endorsement of a candidate in Georgia’s Feb. 5 primary.