Archive for July, 2012

T-SPLOST vote, finally

Last-minute thoughts on transportation tax

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Metro Atlanta voters will cast their ballots Tuesday on the Transportation Investment Act and its proposed 1 percent sales tax to raise $8.5 billion (counting inflation) in traffic improvements. Below, leading voices on both sides of the issue weigh in on the merits and oversights of the 10-county project list, which funnels 52 percent of the money to transit and 48 percent to roads.

Commenting is open below the column by Wendell Cox.

By Tad Leithead

Every metro Atlanta resident should know by now that there is an important decision before them today. This region has the opportunity to act on a transportation referendum that would raise $8.5 billion through a 1 percent sales tax to fund 157 transportation projects across this 10-county region.

Here are some facts to consider as you go to the polls:

1. Georgia ranks 48th in the nation in transportation spending per capita, and fourth in total hours the average …

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Voices for and against the Transportation Investment Act

Today, the AJC Editorial Board writes in support of the Transportation Investment Act, while Joshua Culling, state affairs director for Americans for Tax Reform, writes that it is a wasteful plan that won’t curb congestion.

And because the issue is so important, below you will also find eight other voices — four for the proposal and four against, who have their say. Read the commentaries below and then add your own at the end of the blog post.

By the AJC Editorial Board

“Time and again during the past half-century, Atlanta’s pathfinders managed to pick the right fork in the road.”

From “Atlanta Rising,” by Frederick Allen.

Metro Atlantans must vote “yes” Tuesday on the 1-cent transportation sales tax referendum.

Our future, prosperity and survival as a leading city — all that we’ve worked for and built toward — stands in peril of being lost if the Transportation Investment Act falls to shameful defeat. If that happens, we’ll find ourselves in the very …

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20-somethings and T-SPLOST

Younger generation takes on transportation tax

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Transportation weighs heavily on metro Atlantans’ quality of life, and their future. With Election Day on Tuesday, we reached out to the younger generation to provide their thoughts on the transportation special purpose local option sales tax. The proposed 1 percent levy would raise from $7.2 billion to $8.5 billion, depending on whether inflation is included, for transportation improvements in the 10-county area. Two 20-somethings write in favor of the referendum, and two write in opposition.

There are four short columns below. Commenting is open following them.

By Lawrence L. Gellerstedt IV

College students and young professional leaders of Atlanta, this is our time.

Officials from across the Atlanta region have aligned — something that doesn’t happen often — to provide us with what may be a once-in-a-decade opportunity to directly impact our quality of life.

We are staring at the single largest …

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Did Legislature show wisdom or shirk duty on T-SPLOST?


Moderated by Rick Badie

This region needs significant inroads to curb congestion, and a proposed transportation sales tax that would address the issue has garnered critics and supporters. Today, a former state representative writes that the General Assembly shirked its duties by giving the green light to a referendum that turns the state into 12 Georgias. Meanwhile, a congestion relief advocate praises the Legislature’s approach and tackles what he calls the half-truths and misrepresentations that circulate about the tax.

Legislature shirks duty on tax

By Wyc Orr

Much has been written and said about the upcoming T-SPLOST vote in Georgia on Tuesday. Voters in each of 12 regions across Georgia will vote on an additional 1 percent sales tax to be collected and to fund transportation improvements in that region only.

Most commentary has focused on the tax itself and on the transportation projects to be constructed in each region if voters approve the tax.

But largely ignored …

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Will Congress let automatic spending cuts occur?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Automatic spending cuts set to start in 2013 could slash government spending by $1.2 trillion in the next decade. It also could cost jobs — more than 2 million, according to a study by the Aerospace Industries Association. Will a lame-duck Congress let those automatic cuts occur? Two congressmen from Georgia share their views. Phil Gingrey says the impact of the cuts would devastate our national security and economy. David Scott writes the fiscal cliff could be avoided through compromise.

Cuts will batter U.S. defense

By Phil Gingrey

The national security implications and economic impact of sequestration — automatic spending cuts slated to occur over the next 10 years because Congress failed to cut $1.2 trillion as called for in the Budget Control Act in exchange for raising the debt ceiling — on Georgia and the United States as a whole would be devastating.

“Providing for the common defense” is the federal government’s most important …

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Two views on T-SPLOST

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The transportation sales tax referendum comes up for a vote July 31. Today’s commentators agree that MARTA and its customers are being treated unfairly, but then part ways. One slams the proposal for not engaging the African-American community. The other says the economic boon resulting from $6.14 billion in transportation improvements is too good to pass up.

Fairness, inclusion lacking in T-SPLOST

By Vincent Fort

The T-SPLOST does not pass the fairness test. Residents in Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb counties already pay a 1 percent transportation tax — the MARTA sales tax. If the T-SPLOST passes, Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb residents will incur an increase from 1 percent to 2 percent. In effect, they will be double taxed. Outlying counties will pay only 1 percent. Atlantans will see their sales tax go from 8 percent to 9 percent, an increase of 12.5 percent. That rate is one of the highest in the country. That’s not fair.

Sales taxes are …

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Transportation lessons from a competitor

Texans making tracks

Dallas-Ft. Worth region sees a robust transit network as part of providing options for commuters in this pickup truck-loving state. Atlanta can draw lessons from this conservative competitor.

By the AJC Editorial Board

PLANO, Texas — Even without verdant hills, the heart of this suburb looks much like some OTP towns around Atlanta.

A block from the downtown street that’s home to a trendy tea room, antique stores and offices stands a white frame house with a wooden rocker on the porch. A large, open field and a tin-roofed shed are next door. Birds’ song carries across the humid air.

A pair of railroad tracks separates the two scenes and the bustle of Dallas seems a world away.

Then the rail crossing bells begin to clang and gates lower. A light-rail train appears and comes to a stop, doors opening onto a platform shared with a low, modern apartment building built to blend with nearby vintage architecture.

The standing room-only Dallas Area Rapid …

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Smoking ban in parks

Public health v. freedom of choice

The Atlanta City Council voted this week to ban smoking in public parks, joining Alpharetta, Decatur, Marietta, Roswell and other nearby cities. A councilwoman who sponsored the legislation writes about the need for the restriction, while a Roswell official who disagrees on principle with the ban says it’s another encroachment by the nanny state on our freedom.

Moderated by Tom Sabulis. Commenting is open below following Betty Price’s column.

By Joyce M. Sheperd

This week my colleagues and I passed legislation to ban smoking in Atlanta city parks. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation, and I applaud the city for taking a much-needed step to improve the health of our residents.

While I have listened to both sides of the smoking debate, I have personally seen the negative impact of smoking on visitors of our parks. I am a frequent park user. I have witnessed smoking around children at our splash- pad facilities and playgrounds …

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Young undocumented immigrants: Two views

Moderated by Rick Badie

On June 15, President Barack Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security would stop targeting young undocumented immigrants for deportation if they meet certain criteria. Today, a guest writer says the deferral is the proper thing to do for those who seek an education and pursue the American dream. On the opposite side, a U.S. congressman from Georgia decries the reprieve and calls it a re-election ploy that usurps the law and fails to fully address the immigration issue.

Let DREAM become reality

By Maria Duarte

One of our most cherished American values is that, with hard work and a college education, one can become whatever he or she desires.

Our teachers and parents preached this to us. As parents, we hope to ingrain this value in our children. As a nation, we strive to clear the path for our future doctors, astronauts and entrepreneurs.

Imagine a child who has everything in order to go on to college, but his or her aspirations come to a …

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The state of metro Atlanta’s economy

Moderated by Rick Badie

Georgia’s business leaders say metro Atlanta’s economy has reached a crisis and sits near the bottom of the heap when compared to the speed and strength of recovery in other metropolitan hubs. How can the region regain its economic vitality? Today, a metro chamber executive outlines Forward Atlanta’s new five-year initiative designed to jump-start the economy. And a Georgia Tech economics professor writes that the euro and debt woes in Europe hit closer to home than some of us realize.

Returning sizzle to ‘Hotlanta’

By Sam Williams

Metro Atlanta is in crisis. Our region lags behind our peers in job growth. We are near last compared with other major metros in recovery strength and speed, and we have virtually the same number of jobs now as in 2000. If you adjust for construction and real estate, we have created only 50,000 jobs in the past 10 years.

We are accustomed to being at the top of our peer cities. We were known as “Hotlanta,” but the …

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