- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - Lawmakers have approved a plan for taxpayers to borrow $17 million to build a parking deck largely for the new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

The General Assembly approved that as part of a $42.4 billion budget on Tuesday.

It was surprising given that Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and lawmakers have shied away from offering state funding for the NFL stadium because it was considered politically unpopular.

Republican state Sen. Jack Hill says the parking facility on the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s campus would also serve the College Football Hall of Fame and other events. Democratic Sen. Vincent Fort criticized state authorities for funding a parking deck before restoring cuts to education spending.

The authority originally wanted $35 million for the project. The budget now heads to the governor.

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