The transportation spending bill shows a new willingness by the Legislature’s Republican leaders to invest in infrastructure to attract business rather than depending on a low tax base, University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock III said.

The GOP’s main economic development strategy since taking control of state government about a decade ago has been tax inducements, Bullock told InsiderAdvantage Georgia. But the legislation shows that the Republican leaders will support “increasing some revenue enhancers in order to create infrastructure to make the state a more attractive place,” Bullock said.

The legislation, which Gov. Nathan Deal has said he will sign, will impose a 26-cent-per-gallon state fuel excise tax, 29 cents on diesel fuel. It will also add fees for heavy trucks and buses and a $5 per night charge for hotel and motel rooms. Along with ending the tax exemption for electric vehicles, House Bill 170 also places fees on alternative fuel vehicles.

Bullock said this attitude shift was the result of rumors that other Southeastern states were telling businesses not to relocate to Georgia because of its traffic congestion. He also pointed to a study released by Deal that showed that “we do do have a deteriorating and undersized transportation grid.” 

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