Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle calls 2009 legislative session “exciting,” but many are disappointed

The strangest part of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s address to the Atlanta Press Club today was his opening talk, which lasted nearly 15 minutes.

During that whole speech, every reference Cagle made about the tumultuous recent legislative session was positive. Could that be because Cagle is running for governor and doesn’t want to make any new enemies?

“This was an exciting session,” Cagle said without discussing the legislature’s inability to pass critical legislation for the future of metro Atlanta and Georgia.

In short, he made no reference to the the legislature’s failure to pass any transportation funding or failure to help give MARTA funding flexibility to avoid severe service cuts later this year.

First he started out by commending the legislature and Gov. Sonny Perdue for not raising taxes in this tough economy.

The only part of his talk where he made any reference to transportation was when he talked about the need for a statewide strategic transportation plan.

While he said “we have to be focused on the future” where transportation is concerned, he said he was “excited” about the new transportation governance bill. “It was a step in the right direction,” Cagle said.

But he stopped short of expressing disappointment that a transportation funding bill didn’t pass yet again this year.

In what has been a campaign refrain, Cagle said: “We are going to need over 4,000 road miles in Georgia. We are not going to get there doing the same thing year after year. We are going to make sure funding follows that plan.”

He closed by saying: “the thing I’m proudest of is that I live in Georgia.”

It was only during the question and answer period after his talk that Cagle acknowledged frustration about how there was no consensus in the House and Senate conference committee.

Cagle only made a mild reference to the fact that the Senate had offered three different proposals, but they were rejected by the House.

How refreshing it would have been for the lieutenant governor to have stood up and said what most folks in the business community are feeling — that our political process broke down on one of the most important issues of the day.

How refreshing it would have been if Cagle had then presented a strategy of how the state can repair the damage that’s been done.

By acknowledging the state’s shortcomings, Cagle would have emerged as a leader who is dedicated to not letting metro Atlanta and all of Georgia fall farther behind in transportation investment.

Instead, we got more of the same.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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