The Democratic minority showed its strength this legislative session by remaining united on most issues while Republicans split.

“There were several times where we found a faction of the Republican Party willing to work with us on issues,” Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker, told InsiderAdvantage Georgia. “They were not in lockstep.That kind of bodes well for Democrats continuing to have influence in the future.”

Henson said the Democrats’ main accomplishment was “keeping the caucus together on transportation and other issues. We were able to stay united and try to get something accomplished.” He said the party came out of the session “united and not splintered.”

The Democrats supported the transportation spending bill after receiving administration commitments to aid minority businesses in receiving state work. Henson cited a decline in state Department of Transportation minority contracts from 14 percent in 1985 to 2 percent today.

The DOT, which will receive an additional $900 million a year from the transportation bill, has lessened small contractors’ involvement by awarding projects in big packages, Henson said. Now, the DOT will break projects into smaller units. Gov. Nathan Deal also put money into the Fiscal Year 2016 budget for minority engineering scholarships. The governor will also “see if there are some ways we can help some of the smaller contractors with bonding issues if they are qualified and responsible,” Henson said. In another offering, the DOT board is expected to pass a resolution to conduct a disparity study on minority contracts. 

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