The Georgia House Thursday afternoon agreed with arguments that Georgia needs at least an additional $1 billion a year to maintain its roads and bridges.

Despite avowals that a new state fuel excise tax of 29.2 cents a gallon represents a tax increase, the House rejected a proposed amendment that would have lowered the amount to 24 cents. Then the chamber approved the entire bill 123-46, sending it to the Senate.

“I thought we had the votes, I really did,” said Transportation Chairman Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, who objected to the amendment offered by House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire, and Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City.

Roberts, the bill’s author, told reporters, “I think we made the case we needed to get to a billion dollars. Taking us back $500 million is not where we needed to be.” Now the bill heads to the Senate, where Roberts said he expects more changes in the bill. He said that Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, will spearhead the legislation in the upper chamber. 

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