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Monday, January 17, 2011 - 5:03am

DOT Readies For Budget Scrutiny

This week state lawmakers will be in budget hearings, the time when state agency heads outline their spending. For the Department of Transportation, it may need to be ready for questions about the recent snow storm that rolled through the Georgia last week.

It’s no secret that the DOT had a tough time clearing icy roads last week. The longer than expected snow event has stretched the department’s budget.

When DOT Commissioner Vance Smith presents the agency's budget later this week, he may need to answer questions lawmakers have gotten from angry constituents. So says Tom Crawford, editor of the Georgia Report.

“In a situation like this it is always very convenient to find a scapegoat that you could put the blame on. Perhaps they look at Vance Smith as their designated scapegoat.”

Last summer the DOT had to reduce mowing along highways to save money. But in next year’s budget Governor Nathan Deal is proposing a $55 million increase for the agency. Half of that money would be federal highway dollars.