Transportation: Is the sales tax a good route for the future?

Moderated by the AJC’s Tom Sabulis

Imagine Spaghetti Junction twisted with geographical realities, snarled by political choices and paved with billions of taxpayer dollars. What you get is metro Atlanta’s T-SPLOST referendum. Controversial? Sure. Necessary? Absolutely, say many experts and officials. Will it pass? We’ll know next year. Below, we offer the latest thoughts from leaders on both sides of this issue.

Yes.

It’s an investment in region’s future for jobs, preserving quality of life.

By Chuck Warbington

At a recent event, Chris Leinberger, a real estate and planning expert at the Brookings Institution, said something that caught many by surprise: “Atlanta,” he declared, “is a city that really shouldn’t exist.”

He continued to explain that it was the foresight and leadership of the city and the region to invest in transportation that put Atlanta on the map. In the 19th century, it was investment in rail and freight. In the 20th century, it was the airport, now known as Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and our interstate road network.

If Atlanta wants to continue to prosper and be a jobs leader in the southeastern U.S., Leinberger contends, investment in a regional transit system will be the next driving factor. He said transportation needs to be viewed with the understanding that the goal is economic development and that the means moving people and goods.

The Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable recently took a major step forward in another potential milestone decision in our future regarding transportation investment. Through the leadership of the executive roundtable and its chairman, Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, a list of $6.14 billion in transportation projects was unanimously approved, one generally considered to be balanced from both a geographic and mode of transportation perspective.

The blend of projects uniquely meets the needs of the growing outside-the-perimeter counties by proposing much-needed roadway improvements in the outer reaches of the suburbs while beginning to expand transit into the denser portions. There is also a significant amount of investment aimed at supporting the transit and interchange needs of Atlanta’s inner urban core, which in turn benefits all of the surrounding communities.

This will be the first time in metro Atlanta’s history in which transit and road funding will marry, providing a true transportation funding plan connecting our region. I applaud the executive roundtable in finding that sensitive balance. I also challenge residents and businesses to review the project list carefully to ensure your community’s transportation needs are met.

Metro Atlanta’s future success hinges on voters approving the referendum in 2012.

Over the past 20 years, Georgia has consistently ranked 49th in investment for transportation while at the same time ranking top tier for population growth. The result: traffic congestion, loss of quality of life, and ultimately loss of businesses and jobs. Meanwhile, surrounding metro areas such as Charlotte have made significant investment in transit and transportation and use Atlanta’s congestion as a marketing tool to attract business to their community.

The investment that this referendum for transportation provides will send the message that “Metro Atlanta is Open for Business.”

Many people want to “look back” on the lack of investment or a perceived mismanagement of transportation over the years. I urge businesses and residents alike to “look forward” in investing in our future for sustainable communities, better quality of life and new business.

As a seventh-generation resident of metro Atlanta (Gwinnett County), I like our prospects for success with a new investment in transportation that will bring new job growth to our community in the near future.

Chuck Warbington is the executive director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District.

No.

It’s taxation without representation and misleads on projects.

By Debbie Dooley

Back when Richard Nixon was president and the Vietnam War captured America’s attention, metro Atlanta voted to purchase a private bus operator and establish the MARTA system.

In November 1971, Fulton and DeKalb County voters barely adopted a permanent, 1 percent sales tax to finance MARTA buses with plans to build a rail line. In exchange for votes, proponents got MARTA to initially drop fares from 40 cents to 15 cents.

But while DeKalb and Fulton said “yes,” Gwinnett and Cobb counties rejected the referendum. And under the terms of the vote, Gwinnett and Cobb residents were not obligated to pay for MARTA if they did not join.

Forty years later, we have quite the opposite proposal put forth in a referendum slated for next year by a Republican-controlled General Assembly. In metro Atlanta — where the stakes are highest and the greatest revenue would be generated — counties that could vote “no” for a 10-year, 1 percent sales tax such as Cherokee, Rockdale or even Gwinnett would still wind up paying millions of dollars to finance MARTA.

And they would have never had a specific vote on whether they really wanted to be part of a MARTA system.

That’s because the T-SPLOST would be used to send hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for MARTA upkeep, planning projects and a new rail line to places such as Emory University. It is bundled with other transportation projects as well.

This is one of the many reasons why we believe the T-SPLOST is bad idea. It is taxation without representation and is not a transparent vote for residents who are being sold a package of transportation proposals.

If you want to ask metro Atlanta voters to join MARTA, then make it an honest and forthcoming vote on MARTA alone — not one bundled in a referendum that includes bike paths, sidewalks and airport and road projects.

Advocates will soon launch a slick, multimillion-dollar campaign to try to persuade us that sometime in 2012 we should vote ourselves a 10-year, 1 percent increase in our sales tax in order to ease congestion. But 85 percent of the funds collected in each county will be redistributed elsewhere — not spent in the county in which it is collected.

That means if DeKalb County raises hundreds of millions of dollars over a decade and wants to spend it on filling potholes, synchronizing lights or providing turn lanes, it is out of luck. It has to send the money to the region for redistribution on an already-determined project list. That list will be finalized in October.

Georgia is in an awful bind right now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month our state was 50th in job creation in July. When business and consumers have to pay an additional tax, it will only damper our economy — and job growth — even further. Jobs are created by the private sector; they are not created by a new tax or government spending. President Barack Obama’s stimulus is a testament to that.

The tea party recognizes that Atlanta has a congestion crisis and improvements are needed in other parts of the state. But reaching for taxpayers’ wallets in the greatest economic downturn since the Depression is not the way to accomplish it.

Instead, we suggest Gov. Nathan Deal and the legislature stop playing games by trying to shop the date of the T-SPLOST vote to ensure passage and instead think creatively.

We can reduce traffic by embracing corporate and individual tax credits for telecommuting as technology is the path to the future. We also should embrace more public-private partnerships including toll roads and the private management of highways, as Gov. Mitch Daniels did in Indiana.

Throwing money at a problem shouldn’t always be the first remedy. Instead, the T-SPLOST issue should open the dialogue of how to address transportation in a 21st-century platform, not one that taxes us more and returns us to the past.

Debbie Dooley is national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. She lives in Dacula.

38 comments Add your comment

Dumb and Dumber

September 6th, 2011
10:32 am

The funny thing is…they’re both wrong.

The mix of projects is designed to win votes, not reduce traffic. The Tea Party vision of roads paying for themselves is dim-witted at best.

And the Georgia Legislature? I’d give them a D minus on this effort. Instead of actually formulating a vision and transportation policy, they kicked the can to a ‘Regional Roundtable” of local pols who only really care about being re-elected or furthering their careers. Besides, the transportation tax bill gets the one big thing wrong — instead of creating tax revenues for a host of competing public transit agencies, the legislature should have figured out how best to complement existing infrastructure. I don’t mean expanding MARTA, we all know the Gold Dome cannot stomach that fight, but at least they coulc decide who will run transit outside of Fulton and DeKalb. GRTA, ARC and GDOT already have the authority to operate transit systems, so… choose one. Instead we have GRTA running bus routes that compete with Cobb, Gwinnett and MARTA. Publicly funded transit agencies should not be competing with each other, that’s stupid. If we have one transit agency for the suburbs, maybe it could coordinate with MARTA. Instead we have an empty Cobb County bus sitting behind and empty GRTA bus which is sitting behind and empty Gwinnett County bus. How many empty buses do we need running the same routes?

Oh, and resurrecting Clayton Transit, that’s even dumber. I ride MARTA every day and I chose to live in a place where I can do so, its not dangerous, nor even smelly. But its OK with me if people choose to drive – but I don’t drive to the suburbs (seen one TGIF and you’ve seen them all).

As for road improvements and expansion? Bring them on. Just quit pretending that roads pay for themselves and transit doesn’t; they both rely on tax revenues. Don’t vote for this tax, but not because the Tea Party is against it, vote no because its a lame effort and won’t do much to alleviate traffic congestion.

Its time for the Gold Dome to try a do-over.

DC

September 6th, 2011
11:02 am

I wonder what we could have bought with all the money that has been sunk into MARTA over these past 40 years. A bus service that not only goes where people need to, but can change as the city changes (isn’t locked into routes and stations that go where no one wants to go). Better roads, that continue to (and always will) carry the vast majority of Atlantans and Georgians. A “bypass freeway” to route I-85 and I-75 traffic away from metro atlanta. Amazing how many things we could’ve done.

Road Scholar

September 6th, 2011
11:17 am

Is the sales tax a good route to the future?

It’s the only route we have unless you continue to underfund neccessary transportation improvements. The legislature has lacked the ability to pass a gas tax increase, or even adjust it to inflation. They continue to place their long term planning ( and I use that phrase loosely) on Private Public Partnerships (3P) which calls for private companies to finance and run toll/managed lanes. If you haven’t noticed, no takers yet. They desire to go to a mileage tax where all vehicles including electric and hybrids pay “their fair share”, which is weak on details of rates (probably tied to different types of roads, congestion levels, vehicle weight, Air quality, etc). So this is all we have to move forward.

Any new tax increase in any city/state has come under the process being persued. A list of projects which SHALL be delivered/constructed during the period of the tax…here it is 10 years. Accountability…as good as it gets!

Tea Party: ” But 85 percent of the funds collected in each county will be redistributed elsewhere — not spent in the county in which it is collected.”

They will be spent on projects that RELIEVE congestion. Don’t people from other counties/cities travel to their jobs and shopping elsewhere?Just look at the major system to system interchanges at rush hour and at other times. Check out the license plates while you sit in congestion! If transit is included and ridership encouraged won’t that remove vehicles to reduce congestion and improve mobility.

Since MARTA was conceived, the cries of the “undesirables” coming to the suburbs have been heard. Untrue information concerning the safety of MARTA has been spread by rumor and innuendo. Yes there is some crime (like there is none on the roadways?) but wouldn’t more people using it help to police it? Ya’ know more eyes, more cell phones etc.would be available to report crimes?

Finally, 15% of the income from the tax goes to local governments ; cities and counties will also benefit for transportation from the tax directly. While I haven’t seen a list of “local”projects, that would be a plus to further define the benefits to be expected.

DagnyT

September 6th, 2011
11:26 am

When someone can tell me how a new tower at McCollum field (airport) helps with traffic congestion, I’ll vote for the plan.

roughrider

September 6th, 2011
11:47 am

The author obviously does not realize that people are taxed to death already.

No Artificial Flavors

September 6th, 2011
11:58 am

At first I was supportive of this new consumption tax, however, after the details emerged, I have changed my mind. First, there is no reduction in state income tax to offset the new broadened tax base. It’s a rather large tax increase instead. Secondly, the bill is bad in that it punishes local governments in regions that the TSPLOST fails as far as they have to pay more to match DOT funding. Third, these projects, no matter which region we are discussing, are half-hearted at best. And ignore real problems with infrastructure and transportation.

Also, I’ll agree with others. PPP’s will not work without substantial government investment up front. I’m conservative/libertarian but even I realize that governments exist to provide economies of scale for major transportation and infrastructure projects that must be supported with general tax revenues.

zeke

September 6th, 2011
11:59 am

This ridiculous vote must be county by county! If Cobb or Cherokee or Clayton or any other votes against this boondoggle, they should not be taxed to support it! A screwy as the marta tax is, it was at least done the right way, allowing Dekalb and Fulton to go ahead because they voted for it, and, Cobb and Gwinnett to opt out because their tax paying citizens did not want it, thankfully!

zeke

September 6th, 2011
12:00 pm

The so called beltline is a feel good socialist redistribution boondoggle that will do nothing for the city, county or the taxpayers!

Another Cynic

September 6th, 2011
12:02 pm

I think Dumb and Dumber nailed it.

This vote will fail because the state “leadership” in Georgia’s Gold Dome has been an EPIC FAILURE in pulling this region together and in finding effective ways to deal with our transportation and water resources. It’s much easier for them to play the tired, political game of pitting urban communities vs suburban and rural ones and just kick the can down the road than to actually deal with the important issues at hand. Personally, I hope this vote fails miserably so that it will force our “leaders” in the gold dome to actually address the issue instead of passing the buck like they always do.

Really!?!?

September 6th, 2011
12:12 pm

“Taxation without representation”- Really??? I’m about as conservative as they come, but this is starting to get a little silly.

No Artificial Flavors

September 6th, 2011
12:23 pm

BTW, Mr. Warbington makes a better argument for the tax than Ms. Dooley does against it. If the nays want to win they better drop the anti-everything government does mantra on ignorant tea party leaders and stick to the facts. The facts alone are enough to defeat the tax increase. Apparently Ms. Dooley forgot that her representation has been meeting at roundtables to put all this stuff together for the past year. LOL @ taxation without representation. Please dont mke that important line a cliche.
-NAF

Road Scholar

September 6th, 2011
12:40 pm

AC: “… it will force our “leaders” in the gold dome to actually address the issue instead of passing the buck like they always do.” They are republicans in today’s mold; what do expect them to do? They haven’t done anything new to fund transportation since the early 1980’s. They couldn’t manage a one car funeral procession!

Zeke: It’s called REGIONAL! And how has the way in the past this was done working for ya’? Why do you think this is being floated? It’s called to fund difficiencies!

NAF: There hasn’t been enough spent on transportation in years.This is why they are asking for the increase.
“… that it punishes local governments in regions that the TSPLOST fails as far as they have to pay more to match DOT funding. ” Local governments get 15% of the tax revenues with no strings attached. It is all regional state funds with little to no match. It can be used to match available Federal funds. If you are talking about the recent policy at GDOT to have the local Governments pay for GDOT’s time in reviewing projects, that is miniscule compared to these project costs.Besides, why should GDOT spend dwindleing gas tax money collected statewide to pay for one governments reviews? Also, if the quality of the plans are adequate, then it does not cost much!

Rough: “The author obviously does not realize that people are taxed to death already.”

Good let’s stick our heads in the sand; just maybe it will go away? NOT!
Our tax rates are now lower than they have been in the last 30-40 years. When will people learn you have to pay for the collective good in this country?

Dagny: I’m still trying to figure that one out unless they have expect more frieght flights.

The list of projects were prepared by the Atlanta Regional Commission which is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Atlanta area. It is required under Federal law and they work with other state agencies planning for the future transportation, water, and elderly services. They also model to confirm our air quality status.

They took the “wish lists” from the local governments and analyzed the projects for benefit/ cost, AQ and how they fit into ourregional network. Through the census they track probable trips by metro Atlantans using demand models. The master list was cut down to what is proposed for the referendum.
It’s called PLANNING!

Pompano

September 6th, 2011
12:43 pm

The T-Splost is not about solving traffic or providing Transit – it’s to create a bigger cookie jar for all the Developer hands and Politicians. Most of the funds will be siphoned off.

Lamar Willis is on the ARC and is probably already cashing checks on this one. If he’ll steal from High School kids, how much do you think he plans to pull down from this deal?

And in Gwinnett, Charlotte Nash added a $95 million slush fund under the guise of “Rail Feasibility Study” to funnel money to Wayne Hill and her other connected cronies.

Jack

September 6th, 2011
12:45 pm

Who’s gonna make sure the money is spent on transportation?

No Artificial Flavors

September 6th, 2011
12:52 pm

@ road scholar, you just made my point on that it is a bad bill. Yes, legislators have not gotten the job done so they passed the buck in a shoddy, un-unified attempt to say they did something. They couldn’t girder their loins and fight the good fight on their own. If they did this either county by county or state wide it would be better off. That and reduce income tax. I personally like consumption taxes better. Also, i am not just talking about DOT plan reviews but if the tax fails in a region these counties will have to foot a much greater match on projects than they currently do. Thus, the legislature has incentivized the counties to play along or you will get hurt. Also DOT has passed the buck to these regional agencies because DOT has been inept at doing their job for the past 30 years. Cronyism destroyed that agency.

I think TSPLOST could work, it just needs a bit of a rewrite.

Tony

September 6th, 2011
1:27 pm

Roads should be funded by gasoline taxes. This is the perfect opportunity for all the “fair tax” advocates to get behind their ideas and support one of the very best consumption taxes already in place.

Unfortunately, the governor and politicians derailed this concept this summer by blocking the increase in the gasoline tax that was to take effect in July. If consumption taxes are such a good thing, then why did we nix this increase? The people who buy fuel for vehicles are the ones who should pay for the roads.

[...] post by Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) and sponsored by Moving [...]

Ernest

September 6th, 2011
1:46 pm

Tony is correct, GA has the lowest gas tax in the continental US. With this being a consumption tax, I’d rather we increase this up to 5 cents with the following outlay:

2 cents – State wide projects
2 cents – In place of TSPLOST for various regions
1 cent – for local use where the money was collected. Could be used for MARTA if desired and provide some rollback on sales tax in DeKalb and Fulton counties.

Using this algorithm, the tax would increase by a minimum of 3 cents, with the TSPLOST being optional. This is one suggestion, are there others?

Ernest

September 6th, 2011
1:49 pm

I forgot to mention, this could help kickstart job opportunities in the state given these would be infrastructure projects addressed. Assuming many local contractors and employees are used, this could really stimulate the economy as those wages are spent in communities across the state and help with our unemployment numbers.

Road Scholar

September 6th, 2011
1:54 pm

NAF: I agree with you that the legislature kicked the can down the road, but letting each county/city set priorities by themselves does not address regional needs. it would if every trip began/ended within a county, but…

As for consumption taxes ( which is a user fee I also agree wih you on), how does hybrid or electric car owner/operator pay their fare share, esp if its a gas tax?

GDOT hasn’t been inept ( I agree that they have had their problems though), but the political intrusion into the department has been! I lived it! They are down to 4600 employees from a high of 12,500 in 1980. Most if not all project/program management has been outsorced including most construction, maintainace, design, etc. How does one train qualified and competent successors to run the Department? Besides being a politicians friend? Right now they can’t even hire from the outside to fill high quality jobs vacant due to retirements and people quitting? Consultants are now trainning personel; in house training is limited if not non existent.

BW

September 6th, 2011
2:24 pm

If this is about “taxation without representation” then this region is doomed to fall back to the 18th century. No spending on anything that makes this region worth anything…no education spending, no infrastructure spending, no reservoir building…no no no. This idea that monies raised in one town not helping the region is asinine. I’m sorry that people forgot how Atlanta came to be but if we don’t invest in infrastructure as a region we are all doomed. If companies move anyway…good luck maintaining your home values in Milton. This is what this is all about…I got mine the others better find another way to get theirs. Ms Dooley resolution is telling in that it isn’t a resolution….a call for committees to “think creatively”. That committee will then recommend one of two options…a very regional T-SPLOST or variable pricing toll roads…both remove money from the taxpayers pocket. The cynicism of legislators that are elected by their community is stunning in that they are elected by the same people now crying about everyone else’s legislator but theirs. Money will be required to maintain a certain standard of living…you know paved roads, timely ambulances, that type of thing. Get real…this state consists of 10 million people…no one will be 100% happy 100% of the time.

No Artificial Flavors

September 6th, 2011
2:33 pm

@ Roads, I should have clarified, GDOT has been broken at the top for all these years. I’m not trying to bash the few remaining and overworked engineers and inspectors. You’re right, it became a honey hole for our politicians to stick their hands in.

As for the consumption taxes, I would prefer a gas tax comparable to other states but I do not oppose an additional sales tax. I just think the legislature should roll back the income tax as the revenue base is greatly broadened before I would vote for TSPLOST.

BTW, I do find it reprehensible That we only have a handful of bridge inspectors to handle thousands of state bridges, while other questionable DOT programs are run with high priced consultants. Not that the state wants to fund basic bridge repair. Not sexy I guess.

Gary Abbott

September 6th, 2011
2:34 pm

I see many reasons taxes are necessary for the public good, but I have a hard time seeing how a 1% tax increase for regional transportation is going to benefit me. None of the proposed projects come anywhere near me and even if they did who benefits? OK business benefits, construction companies benefit, government officials in charge of the new billions benefit, but what do I get? As a homeowner and consumer I get the bill. Businesses, developers and politicians love this potential new money bonanza and why not if they can persuade you and me to fund their next big pork banquet?

Trent

September 6th, 2011
2:46 pm

If they don’t pave a lane directly from my driveway to my place of work, I don’t want it! Make it extra wide, too (I drive one of those six-wheel dualies, you know). It’s all about me!

sliderule

September 6th, 2011
2:53 pm

I would support a plan laid out by competent planners, e.g. a Ga Tech panel of city planners, engineers , & architects. I will not support a plan created by incompetent politicians.

Road Scholar

September 6th, 2011
4:04 pm

NAF: I believe that there are teams of consultant bridge inspctors under contract for”just in time” services. I know that they are used when we have massive flood events and All affected bridges are inspected.
What is interesting is that the only program that has “extra” money is bridge replacements. The state route overlays used to happen once in every 10 years (10%of SR/yr); now thy are overlaying about 3 % /y- falling futher behind!

I agree a user fee system is the preferred way of financing the planning, design, construction and maintenance of roads; the gas tax does not get hybrids or electric cars to pay. A mlieage tax would be better based on vehicle weight, miles driven, and in what congestion (higher rate during peak hours) the driving is done. It is in testing using your cell phones as a way to gather travel info!

But I still haven’t come up with better way to fund transit. A sales tax at least gets the visitors to pay for transit. Maybe the motel and hotel tax should be used for transit? Or a regional sales tax like Fulton, Dekalb, and the COA pay now. Maybe we should keep the sales tax for transit and a gas/mileage tax for roads? A regional transit is preferred, and those who say transit has no benefit…they can then drive with all trips being made in personal vehicles! Transit reduces congestion on the roads!

Me-Party

September 6th, 2011
4:40 pm

“But 85 percent of the funds collected in each county will be redistributed elsewhere — not spent in the county in which it is collected.”

This defies mathematical logic – maybe we have an education issue here.

If everyone contained all the taxes they pay to only helping their tiny fiefdom, absolutely nothing will ever be done anywhere, and the world’s infrastructure will crumble.
I’ll agree that those that say the projects would best be selected via cost/benefit by real transportation planners, but that won’t help in a voting situation.
Building more roads won’t solve the problem, and neither will building huge transit systems. You need all the options. Where there are lots of people, there will always be congestion. People must have alternatives, and automobiles are very, very expensive – just nobody really sits down and figures what they really cost.
Private industry is not going to build a transit system, and they won’t build roads either. The expense is too big and the risks are huge. So who is going to do it? The tooth fairy?

Swede Atlanta

September 6th, 2011
4:41 pm

I can’t quite follow Debbie Dooley’s assertion that this is taxation without representation. How more representative does it have to get? We are allowing the electorate to DIRECTLY vote on this tax because the clueless under the Golden Dome are afraid to take a stand. I appreciate that the process for agreeing the projects and priorities lacks the same transparency as a direct vote by the electorate and perhaps that process should be improved. But to claim this is taxation without representation doesn’t correspond with the facts.

Citizen of the World

September 6th, 2011
4:58 pm

That anyone could sit in, or even just see, Atlanta traffic and not recognize the need for this sales tax to fund transportation initiatives just blows my mind. We can say no like Gwinnett County did on the MARTA expansion issue a few years ago and just watch things go from bad to worse — or we can recognize that the marginal utility of improved traffic flow around the region far outweighs extra pennies in our pockets. The ideological intransigence of the anti- tax tea party is going to lead us down the road to ruin — the clogged and polluted road to ruin.

TruthBe

September 6th, 2011
5:13 pm

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why because T-SPLOST and the GDOT lied to all of us and broke a legal contract with the People of Georgia about Toll Road 400 remember? They ALWAYS lie and waste money thru polical corruption and race baiting deals. The tax isn’t the answer to our traffic problems, because if it was than ALL problems would have already been solved because of tax increases of the past. They never reduce or elimate taxes or increases once you idiots vote infavor of them. Shame on you for believing these crooks again. NO NEW TAXES FOR ANY REASONS PERIOD. Live within your means and budgets. Cut spending, reduce salaries of the government managers, city and state counselors and politicans first.

DawgDad

September 6th, 2011
5:21 pm

This plan will tax me for improvements in other areas while I will have to pay fees to use the major improvements in my area. I cannot conceive of a more ill-conceived proposal. Who elected these people???

DawgDad

September 6th, 2011
5:29 pm

“The ideological intransigence of the anti- tax tea party is going to lead us down the road to ruin — the clogged and polluted road to ruin.”

What hooey. The Tea Party hasn’t led us anywhere – yet. Fact is, we got plenty clogged and polluted BEFORE they sprang to life politically, or maybe the transportation needs aren’t really as great as people are claiming? Oh, excuse me. You want to have it both ways. Well, go spend your own money and leave mine alone.

Mama Says

September 6th, 2011
5:58 pm

Citizen and all others who don’t understand the tea party logic,

We are facing a situation in which money for projects is a unneeded expectation. What those of you who see the tea party as a foe instead of your ally, can’t apprently understand is that the money is already there. The fact that the government can raise 601 billion dollars with a simple one cent tax should allow you guys to understand how much money the government already obtains via the everyday taxes we already pay.

To ask for more money, as government wastefully throws the money around that they have already gotten via over taxation, is the height of a lesson we should have learned many many years ago.

GOVERNMENT will never spend our money wisely. This proposal is simply yet another way for the government to collect our money and throw to it to the district which happens to be governed by the politician to whom payback is owed for the last vote, which most likely was a monetary consideration anyway.

To even think that the government can function without political consideration is laughable. When politicians are busy trying to make back room deals the district that benefits is the one with the most muscle and/or the most likely to offer political payoff (or even monetary).

MARTA is the example of this. When 3 counties vote against MARTA in individual votes it is the citizens of that county saying no to that project. When the politicians decide to offer a “new transportation tax” from which MARTA will be expanded and maintained it is taking money from those same people and putting it into MARTA–the very thing they voted against.

It is also why people who actually care what the government is doing with our money will not support more waste.

Edit the projects list to include actual projects that are truly regional and it will be easier to support it. Fill the list with Atlanta based economic progression projects, while leaving the rest of us with only wider roads and we will not.

Reagan Conservative

September 7th, 2011
6:40 am

“Taxation without Representation”= counties that say no to the T-SPLOST can still be forced to pay the sales tax if the total vote of other counties says yes. The voters in each county should have to approve T-SPLOST in order for the sales tax to pass in their county. There is no opt out. I can assure you that my Representative that voted to pass this seriously flawed bill will not receive my vote next year.
This is nothing more than smoke and mirrors to expand MARTA into metro Atlanta counties. I expected more from a GOP controlled Legislature. The sponsors of this bill should be voted out of office.

Reagan Conservative

September 7th, 2011
6:44 am

I find it funny that many GOP elected officials loved the tea party as long as they were fighting Democrats. Now that the tea party has proven itself not to be an arm of the GOP, many elected officials are extremely critical of the tea party because they fight their agenda. We have many elected officials in power that are RINOs and not true conservatives. How can true fiscal conservatives want to expand MARTA and mass transit?

[...] Transportation: Is the sales tax a good route for the future? Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 6, 2011 At a recent event, Chris Leinberger, a real estate and planning expert at the Brookings Institution, said something that caught many by surprise: “Atlanta,” he declared, “is a city that really shouldn’t exist.” [...]

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

September 7th, 2011
1:47 pm

@ Debbie Dooley and other Tea Party thinkers

It’s YOUR ideology that is causing Atlanta and the region to lose it’s choke hold as the leading city of the south.

Transit is needed, bottom line! This is not the south of 1971. We are in 2011 and Gwinnett, Cobb, and Clayton all have completely different demographics. You are so worried about financing MARTA though every county in the metro area benefits from it, whether directly or indirectly. M.A.R.T.A — METROPOLITAN ATLANTA rapid transit authority!

People need to stop living in the past and think about the future. What major city or metro area DOESN’T have a major transit system? New York, Chicago, L.A., Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong. Most would consider them major and successful cities. All have major mass transit lines. Even Washington D.C., which has about the same population in its metro area and started its system about the same time has double the miles in its rail system and it goes OUTSIDE of D.C. into the suburbs.

How many tags that are not Fulton and Dekalb are in the parking lots of MARTA stations? How many people commute in Atlanta daily? You can only build so many roads before they become clogged with commuters. Supporting growth of transit is not going to solve ALL problems but it gives commuters options to get around.

You say the governor needs to “think creatively” for solutions, so let’s hear yours. Expanding MARTA and creating one regional system isn’t a smart idea so what is? Taxing is not the way so what is?

Let’s do what Bush did and give tax breaks to all large companies. Then bail them out. Oh wait, didn’t they keep all the money, pay out large bonuses to the upper management teams, didn’t hire more people but instead “crosstrained” folks. Now you still have no jobs and over worked and under paid employees. Now lets not expand transit to now have clogged commutes to and from these types of jobs. No new taxes… that’s great! Now we can’t even pay for the ROADS out there that need to be upgraded.

We are all waiting on the conservative tea party remedy’s to “address transportation in a 21st century platform.” We don’t want to go back into the past like we did 40 years ago where we didn’t expand transit in all the major counties, built a ton of roads that caused sprawl, and now have some of the worst traffic in the nation. Wait… that sounds like what conservatives want to do now! Things that make you go “HHHHHhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm.”

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

September 7th, 2011
1:57 pm

Oh… almost forgot “No taxation without representation”… have you looked at the MARTA board? There are a few folks that aren’t even from Fulton or Dekalb. Looks like it’s ok for representation of someone that has no stakes on how MARTA is run or expanded and probably doesn’t want MARTA to succeed in the first place, but them or the counties they represent don’t pay a dime torward MARTA, i.e. no taxation. Representation WITHOUT taxation…. how many like the way that sounds? That’s what I want someone telling me what to do with my money and they don’t give me a dime!!