Political Notes – Metro Atlanta’s population is growing more strongly

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Metro Atlanta’s population growth slowed down a lot during the great recession and resulting economic downturn but sped up a bit last year, according to the latest estimates from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).

ARC said its 10-county metro region added about 52,700 people between April 1 last year and April 1, 2014, which the planning agency called “a sure sign that the economic recovery is continuing.”

The increases are still not what they were during the expansionary period of the 1990s and early 2000s, but the metro area nevertheless has grown to a total population at 4,272,300, which is bigger than 24 states.

“Because the Atlanta region is an attractive place for employers and employees, we tend to attract people from all over the country, creating more in-migration than out-migration,” said Mike Alexander, the head of ARC’s research division.

Gwinnett County is still the regional growth leader at 1.9 percent for the most recent 12-month period, adding 11,900 people in all. Fulton County added 12,700 (a 1.3 percent increase), Cobb added 9,600 and DeKalb added 6,300 people.

Other counties’ growth: Cherokee 4,200, Henry 3,200, Douglas 1,300, Fayette 1,300, Rockdale 1,200 and Clayton 1,000.

DOT board member urges tax hike

The legislative committee studying Georgia’s transportation needs held its second hearing this week in Columbus, where it heard from retired banker Sam Wellborn, who has served on the State Transportation Board for more than 20 years.

Wellborn, the DOT board’s most senior member, told lawmakers they should consider increasing the state’s motor fuel tax, which has been set for more than 40 years at 7.5 cents per gallon.

As reported by Mike Owen in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

“I am a Republican, and I’m a conservative politician, if you want to call it that, and I know what I’m about to tell you is touchy,” Wellborn said. “Every time I mention this to people in your position, I’m always given the excuse, ‘Man, I’ve got to get reelected.’

“But my No. 1 thought to impart to you, and you can take it for what it’s worth, is that you need to raise the gas tax.”

Wellborn said of the DOT’s approximately $2 billion annual budget, only about $800 million is available for highway maintenance, and that’s not enough. He said Georgians pay one of the lowest fuel excise taxes in the country at 7.5 cents per gallon, so adding a few pennies would not be onerous, especially considering the levels at which other states levy the tax.

ALEC loses Microsoft support

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative advocacy group that includes several Georgia lawmakers among its members, has lost another corporate sponsor: software giant Microsoft said it will no longer contribute any dues to the organization.

“In 2014 Microsoft decided to no longer participate in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Communications and Technology Task Force, which had been our only previous involvement with ALEC,” Microsoft said in a prepared statement.

“With this decision, we no longer contribute any dues to ALEC. We are no longer members of ALEC and do not provide the organization with financial support of any kind.”

The Coca-Cola Co., General Motors, Bank of America, and Proctor & Gamble are other corporate sponsors that have ended their relationships with ALEC, which drafts model bills for state legislators.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: ARC , Metro Atlanta population , motor fuel tax , Sam Wellborn