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Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 1:57pm

Transportation Chief Open to Regional Penny Sales Tax

The state’s transportation chief is open to a penny sales tax to fund regional transportation projects, but he says it’s ultimately up to lawmakers to pass the tax.

Governor Perdue favors a one cent regional tax for transportation. DOT commissioner Vance Smith says that’s not a new idea.

"Actually two years ago we had a regional approach that didn’t pass, and last year we had a state tax that didn’t pass, so I don’t know," said Smith at budget hearings at the state capital. "We’ll wait and see what the legislature comes up with."

What’s been at issue over the years is where the money would go… to the entire state or particular regions.

The governor’s plan would put it in the hands of voters, letting each of the 12 regions vote on whether they want the tax to fund their projects.

Head of the House Transportation Committee Jay Roberts says he supports it, but details are yet to be ironed out.

"At the end of the day who is going to be managing the money, where will the money go, who is going to set the priority list," says Roberts. "And all that is being worked out as we speak."

The governor's proposal also includes a $300 million bond package for roads this year. Commissioner Smith called it "a welcome beginning in transportation."

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