Those of us who love Georgia football often use Coach Mark Richt’s phrase “finish the drill,” whether we are talking about the game or about other important goals. Usually, getting to the point where you are ready to finish has taken a lot of hard work, involved some tough decisions, and forced you to think about priorities. That is what Georgia’s leaders have done throughout the past ten weeks of this year’s legislative session. As adjournment is scheduled for this Thursday, we need to encourage them to take those words to heart.
Ensuring efficient, safe transportation has been a priority for the Georgia Chamber since our founding in 1915. We have worked with our elected leaders at the federal, state and local level to develop plans, secure funding, and support the construction of our state’s highways, rail, airports and ports. Throughout our history, our state has benefitted from a comprehensive transportation system that has ensured the movement of both people and goods, connected our communities, and done so while keeping our citizens safe. Today, that legacy is threatened by a lack of funding.
Without a significant increase in dedicated, annual transportation funding, our state will not be able to keep up with necessary road repairs or build the projects needed to enhance mobility. We will not be able to ensure safety or efficient movement from our ports, airports or between communities. We simply cannot afford to let the very transportation infrastructure that has allowed us to grow our economy for decades become an underperforming asset. We need to finish the drill.
Both chambers of the General Assembly have passed legislation that would create the minimum of $1 billion in transportation funding experts say we need to address our most critical needs. They have both done so in a manner that benefits our state while protecting our local communities. They have listened to the input of transportation experts, business leaders, and Georgia’s citizens. And they deserve our gratitude and support for their willingness to take on this difficult yet critical issue.
A conference committee appointed to find compromise between the two different bills passed by the House and Senate will share their recommendations this week. It is our hope that their agreement will create the funding needed and do so in a manner that is dedicated for transportation purposes so that those responsible for planning and building projects can do so knowing that funding will be there when it is needed.
We know the work has not been easy, but nothing important ever is. This week’s vote will be a critical one for our state. It will significantly impact the future of our people, our businesses and
our communities. We can only hope that the General Assembly will take Gov. Nathan Deal’s words that “doing nothing is not an option” to heart – and that they will finish the drill.
The author is the President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce