Georgia wants permission to spend own funds on Savannah dredging |


Georgia wants permission to spend own funds on Savannah dredging |

Georgia’s leaders are prepared to use state dollars next year to begin the dredging of Savannah’s port, tired of waiting for federal funding to accomplish what Democrats and Republicans alike view as the state’s top economic development priority.

Significant hurdles remain, including congressional changes needed to lift a spending cap that is hobbling the $662 million project, the reawakening of a long-running legal squabble with Florida over regional water rights and no federal commitment to share the cost.

But as Vice President Joe Biden prepares to visit the Savannah port on Monday, a unified political leadership plans to press him to allow the state to start using the more than $200 million it socked away for the project, with or without more immediate funding from Washington.

“This is something that we’ll pursue,” Gov. Nathan Deal told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If the federal government is slow in doing so, which they have been up to this point, then we will press them for permission to let us spend the money we’ve allocated. We’re ready.”

Still, leaders aren’t writing off help from the White House. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, the Georgia Democrat with the closest ties to the Obama administration, told the AJC that he plans to press Biden to “make a significant commitment to this port’s deepening.” He said he feels like the project is at the precipice of success.

“We haven’t been down this road before. We have made more progress working as a team in the last three years than has been made in the previous nine,” Reed said. “And we have a president who talks about the deepening of Savannah’s port nationally.”

Added House Speaker David Ralston: “We are ready for this expansion. We remain hopeful that the federal government will choose to partner with us as we make this project a reality.”

via Georgia wants permission to spend own funds on Savannah dredging |

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