Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said on the Senate floor during the parliamentary jousting over the transportation spending bill last week that the Senate’s main goal was to get the legislation to a conference committee.

The Senate leadership accomplished that result by an uncomfortably close 29-25 vote as seven Republicans joined with a solid Democratic caucus in rejecting the bill Friday. The Senate vote contrasted sharply with that in the House, where Democratic support ensured the bill’s passage.

Despite opposition from all 18 Democrats and the dissenting Republicans, the Senate leadership gathered enough support to send the bill to a conference committee. Now, the panel composed of both House and Senate members will look at such issues as whether to go with the 24-cent-per-gallon state fuel excise tax in the Senate bill or the 29.2 cents per gallon in the House version.

In the House, Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, won support of the 29.2 cents by insisting that figure would come close to raising nearly an additional $1 billion, frequently cited as the minimum annual amount needed to adequately maintain existing roads and bridges. 

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