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 un-Atlantan role of fearing the future. We will be forced to watch as competitors first gain on us, pull abreast with and pass us by, snatching the jobs and growth we will surrender by voting “no.”

That’s a path foreign to us, as we’ve been a hard-pounding front-runner for so long. On Friday, London celebrated the opening of the Olympic Games. For two weeks, it will do all it can to seize the rare and beautiful moment. Sixteen years ago, Atlanta held the world’s attention with the Centennial Olympic Games. Atlanta was the envy of every American city, and in that shining moment we forged a legacy of ambition that we now risk squandering.

Other cities know well the pain and loss of faltering badly at a critical time, then falling behind. That’s not the Atlanta Way, and it should never be. When white-hot partisan rhetoric, facts, half-truths and everything in between are stripped away, here’s the question before us: does this region take one step up or at least two steps back?

The choice is momentous enough that this Editorial Board presents today our first formal endorsement in several years. It is critical enough that AJC Editor Kevin Riley has promised that, if this tax is approved, our newsroom will double-down on its watchdog reporting, questioning and challenging how every cent of your tax money is spent. (Our parent company Cox Enterprises Inc. is a top donor of the campaign pushing for passage of the tax, having given $250,000 to this cause. It is worth noting that this board advocated for the TIA long before any check was written. That was not a hard call to make, then or now.)

Think about this. For every penny in new tax that would be saved by a “no” vote, Atlantans will waste multiples of that solitary cent in a thousand hidden ways — in congestion-squandered gasoline, penalty fees for missed medical appointments, or insert your own traffic horror stories here.

Do not be seduced by the mirage of a false economy of “no.” Gridlock’s tax is as real as anything ever dreamed up by government, and its scattershot tally will only increase if we do nothing.

And this has never been a do-nothing region. Not the city that collectively shoveled through the ashes and ruin of the Civil War and began a generations-long climb toward a spot on the world’s A-list. Atlanta’s reaped a plenteous harvest from our labors, and we must keep going.

Voting “no” would hand the best possible news to competing cities, which are the biggest TIA opponents. They already now see Hotlanta as Not-lanta. They shrewdly see opportunity in our 9.3 percent regional unemployment rate and the persistent, world-class traffic snarls that hobble our economic competitiveness.

A decisive “yes” vote on Tuesday will tell our challengers, and the entire world really, that Atlanta will not count itself out, and that others discount us at their great peril.

We can begin to fix our epic transportation problems.

To vote “no” would be to fire up an engine that will run only in reverse, powering a Super Speeder trip toward decay. We must avoid that downbound journey.

Even tax-shy politicians understand that reality. With rare exceptions, state and local elected leaders of both parties support the TIA. That they’ve found common ground speaks to the grave challenge facing Georgia, which ranks a miserable 49th in transportation investment.

The detrimental drag of congestion is bipartisan. There is no Republican lane on I-285 nor a Democratic one along I-20.

Even an understandable disdain for new taxes should not spur a tragically negative outcome. Here’s the real dollars-and-cents question in play: Do you believe in the power of a free people to put hard-won capital at risk to create jobs and economic benefit through private enterprises large and small? If yes, then vote “yes.”

To cast a “no” ballot will stifle Atlanta’s innovation and capitalism more effectively than misguided government overreach could ever hope to do. Our business leaders — the real job-creators — have said as much, as bluntly as Southern politeness will permit. Take them at their word.

And do not be swept up in the discordant chant that the TIA is a wasteful misuse of taxpayer money that would do little or nothing to begin reducing the congestion here that all the world can see.

Yes, the TIA is imperfect. It is also the best and only opportunity before us to begin repairing this mess we face.

Given the multiple years of fruitless maneuvering that culminated in a skittish General Assembly finally granting us even this flawed choice, it is unrealistic, if not a fool’s errand, to place pipe-dream hopes on a better “Plan B” miraculously arising from a pothole somewhere to save us from ourselves.

No, each day wasted in search of a more-perfect congestion cure is a day lost to competing cities that aim to chisel away our prosperity,  job by job, and company by company.

A fundamental rule of financiers is the time value of money. Put simply, a dollar today is worth less next year. That truism applies here. Waiting until 2014 — the earliest that a re-do could be voted on — will do nothing but make needed work more expensive and harder to actually get done.

Last year, Mayor Kasim Reed said Atlanta had “lost its lustre,” that the city which once burned bright with dreams and ambitions stands on the verge of faltering. He was right. This vote is as much about the region’s regaining its mojo as it is about the desperate need to solve our traffic woes.

Too many men and women have dreamed too big and worked too hard to elevate Atlanta to being a world-class city for us to now choose the fork in the road that leads nowhere. We owe it to them and our children to vote “yes” Tuesday.

Andre Jackson, for the Editorial Board

Wasteful plan won’t curb congestion

By Joshua Culling

On Tuesday, Georgia voters will decide the fate of T-SPLOST, a multibillion-dollar sales tax increase to fund a variety of new transportation projects across the state. In the Atlanta region specifically, the tax increase will total a whopping $7.2 billion.

Proponents argue that this tax hike and accompanying spending package are necessary to alleviate Atlanta’s infamous rush hour traffic problems. In reality, studies suggest that the transportation projects associated with T-SPLOST will reduce commute times by an average of 2.5 minutes. That’s a tax hike of $2.8 billion per minute in the Atlanta region.

There is no disputing that Atlanta has transportation issues. The metro area’s traffic congestion kills productivity and hampers economic growth. But rather than focusing on alleviating congestion through highway construction, T-SPLOST advocates wrongly believe that mass transit projects will get Atlanta drivers off the road and into rail cars and buses. In all, 52 percent of the T-SPLOST funds earmarked for the Atlanta region will be dedicated to mass transit, predominantly rail.

The problem, of course, is that only 3.6 percent of Atlanta commuters currently use mass transit. In fact, mass transit use has declined by almost half since 1979, when Atlanta opened its first rail transit lines. There is no evidence that suggests that in a sprawling metropolitan area like Atlanta, building more rail lines will cause an uptick in mass transit use and a decline in highway congestion.

And while the T-SPLOST is billed as a temporary, 10-year tax increase, the operating costs associated with expanding mass transit would continue after the tax hike is set to expire. That means more pressure for another round of multibillion-dollar tax increases in 2022, even though the traffic problem will likely persist and rail cars will remain mostly empty.

Voters shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Georgia doesn’t have any wiggle room to raise its tax burden and remain competitive with neighboring states. Georgia, with its 6 percent top income tax rate, is wedged between Tennessee and Florida, neither of which levies income taxes at all. And should T-SPLOST pass, Georgia’s sales tax burden will be higher than all but one if its neighbors. Extracting up to $19 billion (should T-SPLOST pass in all 12 regions of the state) out of the private economy and handing it over to government bureaucrats will only exacerbate Georgia’s competitive disadvantage with its neighbors.

Georgia politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, have said for years that transportation reform is a priority. But by claiming they need billions in new taxes to fund reform suggests transportation is elected officials’ lowest priority. They fund the rest of state government, run out of money, and then ask for more tax dollars in order to tackle the transportation problem. If transportation were the top priority, tax hikes would be unnecessary.

Georgia needs leadership on this issue, not higher taxes and more wasteful spending. The projects funded by T-SPLOST will do almost nothing to lessen commute times in the metro area. Advocates hope to see a sudden uptick in transit ridership that simply will not materialize.

It reminds of a headline in the satirical newspaper The Onion: “98 Percent of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation for Others.” In other words, the majority of the public prefers to drive to work, hoping instead that everyone else will get on the train and out of their way. At 3.6 percent transit ridership, this is certainly the case in Atlanta.

And at $2.8 billion per minute, wise voters will recognize they’re getting a raw deal.

Joshua Culling is state affairs director for Americans for Tax Reform.

Leaders’ sales tax pitch: pro and con

The Atlanta metropolitan area faces a momentous choice Tuesday, as voters head 
to the polls to decide the fate of the controversial penny sales tax authorized 
by the Transportation Investment Act. The local purpose special option sales tax 
would pay for more than $7 billion in transit, road and other improvements intended 
to get the region moving toward repairing our epic traffic congestion. 
Given unprecedented interest in the TIA, we’re offering today a balanced, expanded selection of opinions pro and con on an issue that will impact our area for decades to come.

Yes:

Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta

Ted Turner, founder of CNN, Turner Broadcasting, the Turner Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.

Lisa Borders, president of the Grady Health Foundation and was president of the Atlanta City Council, 2004 to 2010.

Helen Preston Tapp, a land, transportation and environmental planner and policy analyst.

No:

Chip Rogers, state Senate majority leader.

Steve Brown, a Fayette County Commissioner and member of the Transportation Leadership Coalition.

L. Matt Wilson, an attorney in Atlanta.

John Evans, president, DeKalb County NAACP.

63 comments Add your comment

jjakmac

July 27th, 2012
7:57 pm

mr Jackson, you are long on emotional feel good rhetoric but short on facts. This is a boondoggle project.

Death to the T-SPLOST

July 27th, 2012
8:24 pm

Mindless boosterism seems to be new normal for the AJC. However, advocating for a T-SPLOST that taxes the groceries of the poor and middle class and gives it to the road builders just so the Metro Atlanta Chamber can say we are doing something about traffic is a disgrace. At long last AJC, have you no shame?

Vote NO on the T-SPLOST. Delta and the rest of the Metro Chamber members can give up their tax breaks to fund congestion relief. Better that than stealing from the poor to give to the road builders.

Zen Galacticore

July 27th, 2012
8:33 pm

This is not a boondoggle project and is desperatel needed in Atlanta. As the congestion only worsens, more and more people will use the rail lines. The problem with the rapid rail in Atlanta is that it doesn’t go to enough places where enough people live.

Another problem is the strain of racism that still exists in many counties in Atlanta’s orbit. Trying to get Cobb, Gwinett, Fulton, Dekalb etc., and all the municipalities therein that are in orbit around Atlanta is next to near impossible, GRTA or not.

And how stupid was it for Cobb and Gwinett to have their own public transit? The alleged criminals that would simply take Marta up to Cobb county and burglarize and rob suburbanites can just take CCT and transfer to a Marta bus.

We are all part of a greater whole, and that whole is Greater Atlanta, or Metropolitan Atlanta. And were it not for Atlanta, Cobb and Gwinett would still be po-dunk rural farming counties.

Zen Galacticore

July 27th, 2012
8:38 pm

Vote Yes for TIA. If Atlanta wants to remain a world class city, it must expand its rapid rail. While surgically improving existing roads will greatly help, building new roads is not the answer. Studies show that building new and wider roads only brings in more cars, causing more congestion.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the northern arc of 285 sometime. (Of course, it doesn’t help that there are access points and exits every half mile on that monstrosity and the other limited so-called limited access highways.)

After all, 285 was supposed to be an Atlanta bypass, not a commercial free-for-all for every county and town along its path.

Chris Sanchez

July 27th, 2012
9:11 pm

Mr. Jackson,

The bottom line is quite simple: this plan will fail because it will not address congestion. Over half of the funds being raised are not intended to relieve traffic congestion. News flash: so-called economic development it not the same thing as relieving traffic congestion. Take a page from Mr. Culling’s playbook and pressure our elected officials to give transportation the priority they claim it is. Raising taxes on families already struggling to make ends meet is not only unnecessary but irresponsible, especially given that the current proposal will not address traffic congestion.

Chris Sanchez

July 27th, 2012
9:25 pm

Zen Galacticore:

Oh the sky is falling, the sky is falling! To hear you talk one would think every mile of every road in Georgia was falling apart and it is impossible to get around. That is simply a silly notion on its face. In fact, Georgia is ranked #3 in infrastructure & transportation, #1 in the nation in workforce which rated states based on the education level of their workforce, as well as the numbers of available workers, considers union membership and also looks at the relative success of each state’s worker training programs in placing their participants in jobs. This is a study completed by CNBC, not exactly known as a bastion of conservative thought!

Next, the counties around Atlanta are not in orbit. If anything, Cobb and Gwinnett have done a reasonably good job of avoiding the mess Fulton Co. & Atlanta are in which, by the way, is a result of decades of poor leadership and cronyism that even Obama would be proud of. And to allege racism when it is becoming clear that T-SPLOST will be defeated at the polls is insulting to everyone in the Metro Atlanta area. Those counties and others such as Cherokee and Douglas will continue to make sound economic decisions that serve their citizens. When our elected leaders are ready to put forth a clearly defined plan that will actually address traffic congestion, the funding will be there.

Out by the Pond

July 27th, 2012
10:30 pm

A ten year one percent sales tax is a quick but limited fix. It does little to raise real money for the real projects needed to truly relieve congestion. At the end of ten years there will still be a need for more projects as well as maintenance and operations. An increase in the Gas Tax, which is decades over due, would not only raise real money for real projects but after ten years it would still be in effect raising needed money for additional projects and on going maintenance and operations. It’s past time for our legislatures to pull up their big boy and girl pants and do what they were elected to do.

middleground

July 27th, 2012
10:32 pm

Wow, not only no but hell no! Those that want the billions are exempt from taxation. The funds go to companies that chose not to pay a tax.
Yeah, this is an election fraud beyond our imagination. Just watch Atlanta will pass on electronic voting……………………would you miss out on billions when you are a politican?

Jm

July 27th, 2012
11:12 pm

Voting no to Tsplost would be like voting no to the 96 Olympics

Or voting no to Hartsfield Jackson

Or voting no to the original rail line

Or voting no to interstates coming to Atlanta

Voting no would be insanely stupid

But maybe Atlanta has become insane and stupid

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

Prez Obozo

July 27th, 2012
11:57 pm

The ONLY reason I will vote NO is because ALL politicians are corrupt & dishonest. They will use some of the funds for their pet projects to gain financial or personal gain. They feel they are entitled to use money for these reasons. They will pave/resurface small private roads where a CEO or person with power lives or has a week-end get away as they have done in the past. The politicians will not honor their agreement to end the tax in 10 years as is the case with the Ga 400 toll. Sorry but you politicians have proved for years you nothing more than highly educated corrupt criminals who could care less about the public.

zeke

July 28th, 2012
12:53 am

NO! NO! NO! NO! AND NO!

John Ellison

July 28th, 2012
6:23 am

To all politicians: When times are tough, private citizens and business find ways to reduce costs. When you have convinced me that you have reduced costs as much as reasonably possible, then maybe I would vote for a tax increase. We hired you to make the tough decisions, but you’re trying to get me to provide cover for you so you can get re-elected. Do your job!

John Ellison

July 28th, 2012
6:29 am

What happened to the money earmarked for transportation improvement? Has it been spent on more important boondoggles?

Ga Values

July 28th, 2012
6:58 am

The 1st step to a plan “B” which actually reduces congestion is a NO vote Tuesday. VOTE NO ON WASTE,GRAFT & CORRUPTION..

Woody

July 28th, 2012
6:59 am

For Joshua: um, dude, the MARTA trains are full. Go downtown and try to get on one. Oh, and bring your shotgun, to protect yourself from all those nice black ladies reading their Bibles, while you wait, longer than one used to, for a train to come.

Ga Values

July 28th, 2012
8:16 am

The Rosetta Stone poll released by WSB yesterday shows:

Yes………..35%
No………….55%

Ga Values

July 28th, 2012
8:18 am

Yesterday’s Channel 2 Action News/Rosetta Stone Communications poll which Cox is trying to hide.. Yellow sheet journalism at its worse.

“It’s down to the wire for supporters and opponents of the controversial 1 percent sales tax aimed at relieving traffic congestion all over metro Atlanta.

“A new Channel 2 Action News/Rosetta Stone Communications poll shows voters are not yet convinced.

Thirty-five percent of the registered voters polled said they’ll vote for the measure. Fifty-five percent said they oppose the tax. ”

Ga Values

July 28th, 2012
8:23 am

For some reason my links to WSB on the Yes 35% NO 55% poll are being sent to moderation.. the moderator can consolidate into 1 if he wishes.

Out by the Pond

July 28th, 2012
8:24 am

Being against the Tsplost does not mean a thing if you do not go to the polls and vote. Stop the insanity, vote no!

James S. Kennedy MD

July 28th, 2012
10:45 am

My office is right by the MARTA. I can fly into Atlanta, take the MARTA to my office, and save dollars and pollution all in one swoop.

I guarantee you that 98% of people working in Atlanta cannot make the same boast. They must sit in their cars, hoping that WSB may give them insight as to a shortcut they can take to get around the jam in front of them.

Atlanta had led the nation in having the largest local telephone calling area in the country, in having a world class air transportation hub, and, in my opinion, having the best tasting chicken sandwich.

Atlanta deserve to have the best transportation hub that encourages efficiency among its citizens. Those who oppose it are self-centered, thinking of the “me” rather than the “we”. Should it lose, I hope they enjoy the extra gas they spend while stewing in their next traffic jam.

drp

July 28th, 2012
12:29 pm

Unfortunately, the project Selection Committee selected projects for their “Political” benefit and not for the good of the metro area. I challenge everyone to look at the project list and evaluate how each one will help Metro transportation or is it Pork for Politicians to say “look what I got you.” Why should we pour money into MARTA which has proven it doesn’t work and won’t reform itself with Political Board Members. When the proposal is to roll all Metro transportation into an organization controlled by a Non Political Metro Wide Board, elected by the voters in their District, with the goal of Metro Wide transportation, then I will support it. With the Atlanta Area’s low population density, transportation will always be difficult as is Houston, TX. Boston, Chicago, New York and many others have relatively high population density that makes it economically viable to have good Mass Transit. Sorry, this is a Boondoggle for well connected contractors and Political pundits, not for us. A real reform would be to change the allocation of Georgia Department of Transportation funds to a prorata basis rather than a evenly split region basis and take political decisions out of GDOT (legislation addressed this recently). Look at the great roads in South Georgia funded by tax dollars from the Metro Area (this a result of Rural politicians controlling the legislature in the past, which is great for them), now it is time to shift the funds to Metro Atlanta that should have been spent here over the 30 or so years.

Forgot to Mention

July 28th, 2012
1:09 pm

SIERRA CLUB IS AGAINST

mike

July 28th, 2012
1:15 pm

Atlanta is not layed out for mass transit/rail. I am not walking two miles to my office once I exit the rail. This will not and should not be passed. Vote “NO”.

Forgot to Mention

July 28th, 2012
1:22 pm

“I guarantee you that 98% of people working in Atlanta cannot make the same boast.”

They won’t be able to make this boast after this fiasco is enacted either. I’d encourage you to take a look at the project list and you’ll see why.

ErinRogers

July 28th, 2012
1:32 pm

Passing the T-SPLOST is critical for the future success of Atlanta. Other cities such as Houston, Memphis and Charlotte are getting the picture and are working on ways to bring positive transportation reform to their cities. If you think raising funds for the T-SPLOST is a waste of money then think of all the money that will be lost when Atlanta continues to lose businesses to other nearby cities.

BrittanyUnderwwod82

July 28th, 2012
1:38 pm

The passage of the T-SPLOST will not only improve the quality of life for metro Atlantan’s but it will aid in progressing the city as a whole. Houston has caught on and has recently decided to invest in light rail transit. The project list presented is not perfect, but it we wait on a perfect list then we will never get anywhere. Giving people mobility options that are easy and convenient to use will inedible add to more people using transit. Improving roads and interchanges that are in desperate need of repair is what we should be doing. I will be voting yes for the T-SPLOST and will be encouraging everyone I know to vote yes as well.

Hevad

July 28th, 2012
1:43 pm

I read in the AJC that citizens had input to the TSPLOST list, I was on one of those so called citizens input calls. There is no Freedom of Speech in Atlanta metro, every meeting of the governemnt you must tell what you are going to say, be monitored, or be ignored. If your comment is not with the issue you are just not allowed to voice it. Everything is pre-censored. If you were on this call you know the censoring happened. You know that on a telephone townhall meeting in GA there is now freedom to say what you really think of an issue. Your AJC Politifact got it wrong, ther was no real citizen input to the TSPLOST, only politicians and developers …dreams. This is not for the good of the people, but as usual, for the good of the few.

middle of the road

July 28th, 2012
2:25 pm

“For Joshua: um, dude, the MARTA trains are full. Go downtown and try to get on one.”

So with a little fare increase, MARTA should pay for itself. Also, as someone pointed out, it is easy to increase capacity as ridership increases, just add trains.

middle of the road

July 28th, 2012
2:28 pm

Governor Deal says he will remove the tolls on Ga 400 in order to restore trust in govenment (in other words, to correct the lie that Perdue told). Of course, that is solely up to GRTA if they let him or not. Sonny must be very happy to hear Deal say that.

I still don’t trust them and I will bet money that the tolls will NOT be removed.

Rick

July 28th, 2012
2:28 pm

Mr. Jackson,

You make note that a “re-do” (creating a new list of needed projects) will cost too much in terms of the present value of dollar of construction, as a the justification to accept this fatality flawed bill, “as is”, RIGHT NOW. This is reminiscent of well known unethical sales tactics frequently used to pressure the ignorant. There is absolutely no reason to believe the construction companies, and manufacturer’s of steel, building materials, etc, are overworked or are in high demand right now, or the foreseeable future. Prices are expected to stay depressed for quite some time. GOOGLE any business publication.

If we are to be good stewards of all these hard earned treasures we should make very sure, all the pork is removed from the wish list (and everyone knows there is an immense amount yet to be removed on this pig). We have plenty time to do this, and longer the list is vetted, the better the finalized new and improved T-SPLOST will be.

middle of the road

July 28th, 2012
2:29 pm

And, if somehow this TSPLOST gets passed, I will bet my house that once the sales tax goes up, it will NEVER come down.

John

July 28th, 2012
2:37 pm

Middle, very well said. As long as Evans is at the SRTA you can bet on no ethical or honorable decisions regarding the GA-400 tolls. They rushed the sale of the recent bonds to solidy their 200k jobs. Vote no to T-Spost and abolish the SRTA

Jm

July 28th, 2012
3:35 pm

Vote yes

So you can rediscover the joy of driving that the rest of the country enjoys

You’re all a bunch of boiled frogs, and have no perspective on the misery you’re suffering

Katz P. Ajamas

July 28th, 2012
5:48 pm

All the construction ties up traffic for years. It gets worse folks, not better. Then, by the time the construction is done, all the development projects that were approved because of the expected improvement in traffic come on line making the traffic just as bad as it was. It’s a fact folks. Development takes place until it becomes limited by traffic. Ease traffic, development quickly eats the extra capacity and the ease goes away. History is my witness.

Katz P. Ajamas

July 28th, 2012
5:51 pm

Hell, Frederick A agrees with me. His argument for the tax is that it will allow more development. In the same argument he says that it will ease traffic. The two do NOT go together. Traffic easing spurs development to use the available traffic capacity, then the development stops. It ALWAYS happens that way. Especially if the traffic easing is designed to encourage development.

middleground

July 28th, 2012
6:31 pm

electronic voting is a new way to steal billions legally.

Johns creek

July 28th, 2012
7:52 pm

The more I listen to this debate, the more I am convinced that the vote Yes side puts forth a very weak argument. The overwhelming opposition to the TSPLOST has an accurate understanding that the TSPLOST is more likely to hurt our economy than help it. Throwing money at a problem is not a guaranteed recipe for success.

jezel

July 29th, 2012
7:24 am

yea…seems the issue is more about trust in our elected officials to do what they say they will do. All of the reasons for the tax sound good but how do we know the money will go to where it is earmarked to go. And how do we hold the politicians accountable if it does not.

Some body needs to figure this out soon or the tax proposal will not pass.

NO for T-SPLOST

July 29th, 2012
9:06 am

Now – how many millions have the “developers” put behind this? You know, C. W. Matthews, Vulcan Materials, et al? That alone should be considered “illegal” – the very people who stand to gain hundreds of millions of dollars, putting “their company’s money into this push for T-SPLOST.” Corruption indeed. Not to mention the strong arm tactics with their employees…
This T-SPLOST push is the largest scam the State of Georgia has tried to pull in years. The bulk of the money does not go to improve “congestion” – which by the way THEY CREATED with extremely poor planning and road/highway debacles. So We are going to give them more money so that they can UNTIE the TIED UP MESS they TIED UP TO BEGIN WITH??? I THINK NOT !!!
Our politicians/builders/City of Atlanta, etc. have long since lost the trust of the people of Georgia. We already pay taxes in each community and within the state for “road improvements” – what have they done with that money? Well, look around and you will see…..a MESS!! Further the so called improvements to I-85 created a nightmare and they just went on and put the “paying HOV lanes” there without a vote – so let them “spend that money” the are reaping now. GA 400 is a joke – the toll lanes could have immediately been stopped 2 years ago and could be stopped NOW – so what is the problem Gov. Deal??? They had the funds and have the funds now to do this. Now – why don’t they take all of the extra money they will be receiving in the state from the “on-line lottery gambling” the Gov. just approved – which over time will be billions of dollars to do these improvements. They did this knowing that those who could ill-afford lottery tickets will indeed go for it. Preying on our most vulnerable yet again…..

There have been many more serious human life issues for our Governor and state to be focused on than T-SPLOST. What about human lives in jeopardy and lost? DFACS and the abuses, neglect, and violence against our most vulnerable – children, mentally handicapped, and mentally ill in this state’s institutions? Where in God’s name have all of the BIG TIME Chambers of Commerce, business leaders, legislators, and government officials and Governor been when these “human life” issues have reared their heads??? NO WHERE THAT’s WHERE!!! So, for this “outpouring” of pleading and pushing for T-SPLOST to be happening when there are much more “CRITICAL ISSUES” that are on-going and continue within this state at this time makes any normal, moral person want to puke!!!

Bottom line is they can’t be trusted and it does NOTHING for anyone except all of them personally & politically – it is all about POLITICS and BIG MONEY. They cannot be trusted VOTE NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO for T-SPLOST!!!!!!

NO for T-SPLOST

July 29th, 2012
9:11 am

Further – the ONLY WAY we shall have better representation in this state is to VOTE OUT EACH AND EVERY INCUMBENT when you go to vote now and in the next numerous years. We as a people in Georgia who do not trust our politicians, see nothing but graft, dysfunction, and lack of leadership owe it to ourselves to just keep voting in NEW people each and every time. Perhaps over the years politicians will get the message. Either pay attention and care about the people you say you “represent” or else – you are gone!

Oh hell no

July 29th, 2012
9:41 am

How ironic – Governor Deal announces the end of 400 tolls just days before we vote on a proposed self-imposed tax increase of billions of dollars. Billions of dollars to further line their pockets? I think not for a few reasons…
1) I won’t vote for a tax increase on myself. My representatives might do it, but I don’t have to do it for them.
2) $470 million to perform maintenance on MARTA…which had losses of over $500 million last year. Before they get any new funds, the entire leadership should be sacked.
3) Lack of faith or trust in the GDOT. Northern Arc, 400 tolls, HOT lanes, Atlanta to Macon (via Lovejoy) rail line, etc., etc. Those bimbos can’t even get the (temporary) bridge over McGinnis Ferry right (two lanes west, one east….tell me again, where were the choke points when it was two lanes??)
4) It WON’T free up the roads.

ed

July 29th, 2012
10:40 am

i vote no. It sould be noted that several projects {285/400} for instance will happen even with a no vote. Those projects should be pointed out so an easier NO vote can be made.

gp

July 29th, 2012
11:08 am

When I hear government solution to traffic I immediately thin HOT lanes being crammed down our throats. Vote no

Vote YES!!!

July 29th, 2012
11:15 am

GDOT will not be the final authority for money management!! Read the freaking law you ate voting on before you vote. It’s all there in black and white. HB 277 from 2010

Vote YES!!!

July 29th, 2012
11:16 am

HOT lanes were a federal project. Not state.

Vote YES!!!

July 29th, 2012
11:21 am

All of the arguments against can be refuted by simply referring back to the law we are all voting on. Citizen Review Panel, annual audits by independent auditors to name a few.

Vote YES!!!

July 29th, 2012
11:24 am

If you vote ‘no’ the gas tax will be raised and tolls will be built. That will equate to more out of pocket than a 1% sales tax increase and have ZERO oversight and no dedicated project list. And transit is still not funded.

Vote Yes!!! is a moron

July 29th, 2012
11:34 am

The HOT lanes were paid for, in part, with Federal money. But, they are a state initiative. The Feds could NOT have put them in without Georgia’s permission. And, we ARE going to get more of them – regardless of how the TSPLOST bill goes down.

Oh, and black and white? What about the 400 tolls? That was black and white too – until the government decided to apply the money to OTHER projects…and to extend them.

We voted early in our house…and all four of us (parents and two 18 yo twins) voted NO.

YES

July 29th, 2012
11:40 am

I am totally an anti-tax proponent but am 100% behind this tax. For those who can’t see why it is necessary, to be blunt, you’re idiots and cannot see the future. Almost every argument I see that is negative mentions the amount going towards rail as a waste. Well guess what, while rail getting added may not convert drivers into riders, it will attract people like myself to the city. Young people now do not want ro commute via car anf waste time in traffic. Urbanization and density are going to be the key to Atlanta’s future and without this funding it will be a huge blow to the city. For those who think of it as that doesn’t impact you because you are already here and have a job, well what about your kids future job potential?

An interesting statistic for you to think about. The city of Atlanta is about 40th in population with 600,000. The metro area included we are about 9th with 5.3m people. A ratio of 9.5:1. Compare that to NY at 2.5:1, Chicago 3.5:1, LA 3.5:1, even Dallas a car city and considered to be a lot like Atlanta is at 6:1. Atlanta’s future growth has to come from within the city and population density. We cannot handle any more people in the suburbs without traffic becoming even worse. That is why rail is important

jezel

July 29th, 2012
12:00 pm

To: No for T…SPLOST

You make some excellent points. So….another question. WHERE ARE OUR LEADERS AND WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN ?

There are few corporate leaders and very few political leaders to believe and follow. This city and this state is in a fix. Appears that it has taken this tax question to illuminate the fact.

The citizens of Georgia have been lied to, lied on, locked up and poorly educated.. for way too long.

Kentavious

July 29th, 2012
12:04 pm

“Voting “no” would hand the best possible news to competing cities,…”

Who but the Chamber of Commerce types worries about “competing” with other cities? T-SPLOST might have selling points in its favor, but let’s get real…the average metro Atlantan doesn’t sit around fretting that we might fall behind Birmingham or Charlotte.

Bernie

July 29th, 2012
12:35 pm

How can a plan such as The T-SPLOST be successful? when this same editorial board has already stated clearly in a past opinion, that it is being unfair of its delivery to one segment of the population from the onset. Even the current opinion verifies the serious concern for serious potential malfeasance along with the usual waste and fraud that typically accompanies such funding. This is a concern of many
especially when it comes to the proposed regions of local government spending.

This kind of decision to support does not inspire confidence nor does it applies logical and rational thinking. But then again this is Georgia and nothing here is really what it appears to be. One must peel away the layers to see that this peach is already too bruised to be taken to market and should be discarded for another season.

Not until, we truly learn as a community in order for one to succeed, we all must succeed equally and as one. Atlanta will never untie its traffic nor its its history from the past of being indifferent to the neighbor that shares the same road until all of our thinking is changed for the betterment of the whole, instead of just the parts we love and care for.

Greg

July 29th, 2012
1:19 pm

Here we go again. Government thinks that it knows what’s best for Georgia. No doubt traffic is an issue. But raising taxes during a great recession??? We would be taking jobs away from those who are struggling. Why? The vast majority of penny pinching, hard working Georgians will reduce personal spending to afford life’s basics. And some folks will lose their jobs because we’re spending less. Maybe Georgia should consider a Reagan-like solution: Reduce taxes and watch the economy grow. Then improve transportation with increased tax revenues without creating new taxes. We better vote NO!

Jeremy

July 29th, 2012
1:26 pm

Would love to see the math that Culling is using to get to $2.8 billion per minute. Seems like he might be dividing the costs by 2.5 and not accounting for 2.5 multiplied by the number of commuters in the region. Sounds suspect to me, especially in that he’s not showing us how he got there. To argue that transportation funding is merely a matter of priorities is interesting but what exactly does Mr. Cushing argue we should cut? This looks like a classic case of stead fast opposition to a real problem but with no well thought-out alternative being presented.

smilesterr

July 29th, 2012
3:00 pm

We will vote no in our house. Why would we ever want rail (crime) in our suburban county? Atlanta has its issues, which is why most sane people live outside the perimeter. Many businesses have away from the city to avoid the crime, graft, and corruption of Atlanta. We already have 2 SPLOSTS in our county. ENOUGH is ENOUGH!

Lamar Smith

July 29th, 2012
3:18 pm

Sales tax in Atlanta is already 8%. Add one and we will be at 9%, more than the 8.875% in New York. They need to go back and negotiate cuts in the other sales taxes to keep the total under 8% before we vote on this package.

Out by the Pond

July 29th, 2012
4:54 pm

Just a couple of points regarding Tsplost….as most people read the bill they see a slight advantage to mass transportation funding. This is not nessecarly true. There is a provision in the law that additional funds can be set aside for an additional 10 years of operations of the mass transportation improvement. This money comes from the original pool of money so the funds going to mass transportation is greater than what is being discussed. More money for MT equals less money for pavement and sidewalks.

Point two….currently a 1% sales tax equates to an extra 3.5 cents per gallon of gas. As I have posted on other blogs, it would take a $0.20 cent a gallon additional gas tax to regain the purchasing value of the 1980 gas tax. And as I have stated before, the Tsplost is a short lived (10 years being short) fix of projects that do very little to solve the problem. A $0.20 a gallon tax phased in over 2 or 3 years would provide a real influx of money to plan and build real projects that provide real solution.

One more thing……stop bashing the GADOT. I have worked with thses people for over 42 years and most if not are hard working dedicated employees. The problems began with Sonny and his girl friend Gena, who is still in charge of Toll Roads. Yes I make a living from highway construction and development. But this Tsplost is not a good fix. Hit me in my pocket book…….VOTE. NO!

jj

July 29th, 2012
5:29 pm

Out by the Pond:. Your so true about GDOT. Great people. Your also right on the money with Sonny and Gena. These two extended the toll roads, virtually stopped road building at the onset of the recession, shoved the lexus lanes down the throats of the drivers in gwinnett and sold bonds quickly to entrich her overpaid job. Perhaps the most inept people in State government.

jj

July 29th, 2012
5:29 pm

Enter your comments here

Chris Sanchez

July 29th, 2012
5:41 pm

We’re almost there…July 31st and the defeat of the abysmal T-SPLOST. Millions of dollars have been spent trying to convince people to pass this huge tax increase to fund a black hole. People in metro Atlanta are not as gullible as politicians in the state seem to think we are. Still, the desperate cries and name-calling from those who support this wreck of a tax persist.

Perhaps on August 1st our politicians can get back to work crafting a project list that is actually intended to address traffic congestion and leave economic development (per your own expert, the transit projects will not address congestion…they are for economic development). If you want to do economic development then propose it as a stand-alone measure and lets have the debate. Just be prepared to defend MARTA in the process.

middleground

July 29th, 2012
7:06 pm

We have unverifable electronic voting……………..they ain’t going to walk away from billions for the taking.

[...] // 07/29/12Following the endorsement of Creative Loafing last week, today, the AJC gave a full throated endorsement of the July 31 Regional Transportation Referendum. Here are some excerpts: Think about this. For [...]