House leaders Wednesday afternoon unveiled a transportation plan they said will raise more than $1 billion a year for roads and bridges without increasing taxes on Georgians.

House Speaker David Ralston said at a packed press conference that a bill to be introduced Thursday morning will fold the state’s 4-cent gasoline tax into the per-gallon fuel excise tax. “I expect the bill to be thoroughly vetted as it goes through the legislative process,” Ralston said.

Rep. Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, will be the bill’s lead author. Explaining the legislation’s various pieces, Roberts said the sales tax conversion will bring the excise tax to 29.2 cents from 7.5 cents per gallon, based on the average sales tax collections of the last four years. Georgians won’t have a higher tax bill, because they will no longer pay the sales tax.

The excise tax conversion will have the effect of transferring the 1 cent of the gasoline sales tax that now goes to the general fund to the state Department of Transportation. Roberts said that will give around $175 million a year to transportation. He said that the Legislature will have to decide on how to replace that amount in the general fund. 

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