Speaker David Ralston and Governor Nathan Deal both spoke Wednesday at a breakfast preview of the upcoming legislative session sponsored by PolicyBEST. PolicyBEST is a public policy organization aimed at “changing the public debate and achieving real solutions.” Last year’s HB 170, the transportation funding bill, was a feather in the cap of PolicyBEST and the Georgia Transportation Alliance. The groups helped win support for the bill in the legislature and across the state. Many considered transportation to have been off the table following HB 170’s passage, particularly after Governor Deal said last year that 170 was “the one bite at the apple.” Apparently the transit part of the apple may have been too juicy to resist.

While Deal focused on education and jobs development, Ralston spent a significant portion of his time praising the new leadership at MARTA, calling out MARTA CEO Keith Parker by name, and suggesting transit would be on the table come January. MARTA is coming off three consecutive years with a budget surplus and is looking to pressure lawmakers for approval of expansion. 

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