We all know that Senate Bill 120, the legislation that would’ve allowed MARTA to exercise control over its own finances and possibly prevent the transit agency from making drastic service cuts, failed on the final night of the legislative session. But why?
In a candid email to his constituents, State Rep. Ralph Long, III, D-Atlanta, says Georgia House Republicans used the bill as a “political football” and threatened to punt the measure if the Fulton and DeKalb delegations didn’t vote for a GOP-endorsed piece of legislation involving freezes on property values.
Long writes in the email:
I will always stay true to my commitment to keep my constituents educated about the pressing issues concerning us today.
On Wednesday, April 1st, two days before the end of the General Assembly’s 2009 session, the Fulton and DeKalb County delegations called a special meeting for the sole purpose of discussing MARTA. At that meeting, the Republican leadership approached the two counties with what they said was a deal. According to the Republican leader, they needed 20 votes to pass S.R. 1, an unpopular bill related to property valuation freezes.
We were told that we must support S.R. 1 in order to give the Republicans the votes they needed. In return, the MARTA bill would pass. If S.R 1 did not pass, we were told that the MARTA bill would die in committee and not be brought up for consideration before the end of sine die. The Republican leader said that he lives closer to Disney World than any MARTA train station, and that he only occasionally rides MARTA to ball games.
Fabulous. A bill that would have drastically improved Atlanta's transit system--and thereby might have helped Atlanta along its way of trying to become a truly world class city--gets voted down by Republicans who don't even live in Atlanta. That don't live in Atlanta and snicker about making life difficult for people who do live in Atlanta.