Jim Galloway brings to our attention a transportation-related tussle between Gov. Sonny Perdue and Congressman John Lewis over Georgia's missed high-speed rail funding opportunity.
Lewis told WSB-TV that the measly $750,000 Georgia received could be attributed to the state's leadership. Perdue, responding through a spokesman, said he found it funny that the congressman was pointing fingers about federal funding when the Democrats currently control the White House and Congress. High-speed choo choos intrigue the governor, Perdue's spokesman said, but Georgia just doesn't have enough cash to meet its transportation wants or needs, for that matter.
The congressman didn't like that one bit and delivered a stinging rebuke.
Courtesy of Lewis' office, here's the congressman's full statement. We've reprinted it in full for the benefit of future historians, who are reading this on an iPad.
It is a shame and a disgrace that someone in Governor Sonny Perdues office would take a cheap partisan shot on an issue that means so much to the people of Georgia. Transportation should be at the top of every elected officials agenda in Atlanta, and it has been a major focus for me throughout my entire tenure in Congress.
I have brought back hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to help solve Georgias transportation problems over the years, only to have millions left unused by the state. I secured tens of millions for the Multi-Modal Terminal, the Georgia Commuter Rail, and the Lovejoy to Griffin line.
For ten years, over $100 million of that money has been left waiting to be used. Even in the face of this poor management, I have used my influence to add language to a House bill which extends the deadline for this funding, so the people of Georgia will not lose this federal support. That bill has passed in the House and is waiting for action by the Senate.
More recently, partly due to my influence and the power of the Democratic majority, the Georgia Department of Transportation was a top recipient of stimulus dollars. GDOT alone received nearly $572 million in stimulus funding, without any Republican support from our delegation and in spite of criticism by the governor. Yet the state only allocates $2 million in its upcoming budget to MARTA, a vital transportation resource which is $160 million in debt. Last year, I did my part. MARTA received more than $60 million in federal funds.
I have said for years that Georgia needs a comprehensive, regional transportation plan to solve our problems. That is not the responsibility of any federal authority, but it rests squarely on the shoulders of the governor. While Georgia dawdles, other states like Florida and North Carolina are seizing opportunities to use transportation as a means to draw big business, opportunity, and jobs to their states. Georgia is not in the running because it does not have a plan.
I have done my part and will continue to bring federal money home to the people of Atlanta. Now it is time for other responsible officials to do theirs.
The congressman's right. Washington, D.C. has tossed Georgia plenty of pitches, but the state's been too lazy to even swing. Such states as North Carolina and Florida won big high-speed rail grants because they'd invested in transit, their lawmakers were serious about transportation, and they'd been good stewards of federal cash for rail programs. We could go into extensive detail about how that hasn't been the case in Georgia we actually just deleted an entire paragraph about it! but you already know that story. You've read it many times. The reality remains: there has been little movement, for whatever reason, on transportation in Georgia.
We can take some comfort in the fact that the feds even threw some planning money our way. It's a sign we're still considered a regional hub thank the political leaders who helped build Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for that and a key part in the future high-speed rail network.
Should the state continue to, in Lewis' words, "dawdle," that could change.
(File photo by Joeff Davis)
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