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House GOP’ers say compromise only route for lifting of MARTA’s spending restrictions

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Georgia House Republicans’ top vote wrangler said Wednesday he has high hopes for compromise legislation to lift spending restrictions on Atlanta’s public rail system.

House GOP Whip Ed Lindsey said in an interview today with Atlanta public radio WABE the “best, quickest way” for MARTA to achieve its foremost goal of axing the requirements it equally spend funds on critical improvements and operations is for metro Democrats to assent to a restructuring of the system’s board.

“I think, quite frankly, we had a good compromise bill dealing with the composition of the board that everyone had signed off on,” Rep. Lindsey told WABE’s Denis O’Hayer today. “I see the best, quickest way to get that bill through–what MARTA needs, which is the suspension, the three-year suspension of the 50-50 split passed–is to go ahead and move forward with that compromise that everyone already signed off on.”

Not everyone signed off, though. That legislation failed at the eleventh hour last legislative session by the slimmest of margins when Democratic lawmakers rejected the Republican-led compromise bill.

Asked by host O’Hayer if north-south Fulton tensions inherent in a bid to reconstitute the transit agency’s board would again tank the legislation, Lindsey said the restructuring scheme would make MARTA a more successful operation.

“I strongly believe the best way to get folks in north Fulton to come on board in terms of MARTA and to be more open to its operations is to give the folks in north Fulton a greater voice,” the Atlanta lawmaker said. “The changes that have been offered will strengthen it, not weaken it.”

- James Richardson