The self-induced paralysis of Georgia government

Last week’s overwhelming rejection of a proposed 1-penny sales tax leaves metro Atlanta with no conceivable funding mechanism to address its serious transportation deficiencies.

The financing certainly won’t come from local sources, not after metro taxpayers rejected the new tax by an almost 2-1 margin. It won’t come from the feds either, not after we’ve so emphatically demonstrated an unwillingness to pay our local share.

And as Gov. Nathan Deal has made clear, state leaders also have no intention of trying to fill the gap, and will content themselves with trying to patch the system together using existing resources.

The problem is, no one with any knowledge of the situation believes that our existing meager resources — we are 49th in the nation in per capita spending on transportation — will be sufficient. Unless unspecified bold approaches are forthcoming from previously unsuspected sources of leadership, the region now seems destined to stall for years in its own traffic congestion.

Moody’s, the New York-based bond-rating firm, this week noted the damage that could do to the region’s economy, and thus to the bond ratings of local governments. The region “needs major upgrades to its dated and limited transit system and congested roadways to maintain its long-term position as an influential economic center,” Moody warned, concluding that the region now has no means to fund those needed upgrades.

Unfortunately, last week’s vote must also be seen as merely a symptom of a much deeper crisis in leadership, political culture and vision now confronting the Atlanta region and the state. In short, through their own rhetoric and their own actions, Georgia political leaders have succeeded in delegitimizing government as a tool for fixing not just transportation but a whole range of problems, including education. They have led the crusade to destroy public faith in the institutions that they themselves lead, and as a result those institutions have become increasingly useless.

The cynicism that fuels that delegitimizing process could be seen clearly in a statement released by the governor’s office after the T-SPLOST defeat. “On public transportation, yesterday’s vote slams the door on further expansion of our rail network any time soon,” Deal said in a press release. “Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates.”

A few points:

— Deal’s statement “slam[ming] the door” on rail expansion demonstrates the folly of the anti-T-SPLOST position taken by the Sierra Club and Georgia NAACP. Both groups had hoped that the plan’s rejection would lead to a second proposal more heavily weighted toward transit investment. That will not happen.

— The Deal statement also reflects a conviction among conservative Georgians that Atlanta, alone among the world’s major metropolitan areas, can somehow grow and prosper without a significant and ongoing investment in transit. There is no example of a major metro region succeeding in that effort, but it is an article of faith nonetheless.

— Finally, last week’s rejection by voters was the culmination of a series of leadership failures by state officials. First, they lacked the courage to raise transportation revenue themselves; they then Macgyvered a flawed T-SPLOST process and forced it upon local officials and voters. Finally, in the months before last week’s vote, they ignored pleas to create a basic regional transit governance structure that would supercede MARTA and reassure voters that regional transit could become reality.

Given that record of failure, it takes a lot of gall to trot out a favorite whipping boy, MARTA, and somehow imply that the transit agency is somehow to blame. That is particularly true given the financial, political and geographic constraints that MARTA is forced to operate under by state leaders. Rather than challenge the attitudes that led to the T-SPLOST defeat, Deal pandered to them.

However, the most frustrating aspect of the anti-tax, anti-government mythology threatening prosperity in this state is that it is indeed a mythology. State government in the last 20 years has simply not been the bloated monster devouring ever larger chunks of our wealth that some would like to claim.

In 1992, tax revenue collected by the state amounted to 4.5 percent of Georgia’s gross domestic product. By 2011, state government was collecting just 3.8 percent of state GDP, a significant reduction in tax burden. So look around you: Is this the economic powerhouse that such a reduction in state tax burden was supposed to have created?

– Jay Bookman

346 comments Add your comment

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 8th, 2012
7:43 am

Bookman for Governor.

Gale

August 8th, 2012
7:45 am

I know, I know! Lower taxes and give tax breaks to business so they will come here. Water? Who needs that. Leaking infrastructure? Who cares. Congested traffic? Make wider roads. We don’t need no mass transit! No problem.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 8th, 2012
7:45 am

massachusetts refugee

August 8th, 2012
7:45 am

it’s obama’s fault…

Granny Godzilla - Union Thugette

August 8th, 2012
7:46 am

Cherokee

August 8th, 2012
7:48 am

Our current prosperity is largely a result of past investments in infrastructure. Hartsfield Airport, the interstate system, etc. How morons like Chip Rogers think that we can grow our economy when we refuse to invest in infrastructure is beyond me.

Atlanta – sadly – will no longer be the leader of the New South.

TaxPayer

August 8th, 2012
7:52 am

Below the belt! Foul. Jay hit the Georgia GOP leadership with the truth. What the heck though. They do have their faith to fall back on and that faith has done a good job of protecting them from such things as global warming over the years. So cheer up. It’s not a total loss.

Dana F. Blankenhorn

August 8th, 2012
7:55 am

When did Macgyvered become a verb and if so why must it be capitalized? If it’s a verb, then it isn’t capitalized. But it’s a show’s name, so it’s capitalized. A capitalized verb. That must have caused some discussion in the office. It would have when we started, I’m sure.

Oh. Good column. It’s up to Georgians to decide when and if they want new political leadership, and up to good people to stand up and take the beatings from the establishment until the people make that decision. It’s called democracy.

curious

August 8th, 2012
7:56 am

Bottom line is that Georgia politicans have lost the confidence of the voters.

If we believed the money would be spent appropriately and not to line some favored crony’s pockets, it probably would’ve passed.

Thomas Heyward Jr.

August 8th, 2012
8:01 am

“Georgia political leaders have succeeded in delegitimizing government as a tool for fixing not just transportation but a whole range of problems, including education. They have led the crusade to destroy public faith in the institutions that they themselves lead, and as a result those institutions have become increasingly useless.”
.
At least these guys are doing something right………………..and those institutions were really never exactly “useful” to begin with.

TaxPayer

August 8th, 2012
8:03 am

Republicans now come out and say, “What! Me! I didn’t do anything!”

Oh, the irony. It is like the butter that I cut with the knife and spread on my morning muffin.

scootdog

August 8th, 2012
8:03 am

Great article Jay.

Gale

August 8th, 2012
8:03 am

Oh definitely; this was a vote of no confidence. The problem is promoting politicians from the local level to the state level without seeing them cave to the rampant corruption they encounter all along the path. We see this corruption in county government all the time. How can we expect to find honesty in the State house?

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 8th, 2012
8:05 am

from GG’s linked TNR article:

The Georgia experience matters nationally for a simple reason: Since 2008, the GOP and its business allies have energized its movement-conservative base (rechristened as the Tea Party Movement) to savagely fight for radically reduced public spending. Now, when increased public investments and the revenues necessary to pay for them are obviously essential to keep a state economy growing, Republicans can no longer dial back the rhetoric, or even count on Democratic voters to help bail them out.

See also: Sowing reapage, chicken homing.

Weasel

August 8th, 2012
8:08 am

Now that public transportation has been figulatively de-railed, watch the legislature accelerate their dismemberment of public education.

ken

August 8th, 2012
8:11 am

Illinois is governed by 99% Democratics. They have very high taxes, toll roads, unions, very broke pension funds and many other negatives. Let’s not copy them.

Daedalus

August 8th, 2012
8:14 am

After 8 years of do-little Sonny (his singular transportation achievement in metro Atlanta? Spending $110 million in federal money to turn HOV lanes into toll lanes). Now we have Nathan Deal, who is ready to blame Perdue and walk away from the problem of a seriously Balkanized metro Atlanta.

As the sign on DeKalb Avenue says: Enjoy Your Car!

Johns creek

August 8th, 2012
8:14 am

So what is the point Jay? That our political leaders are inadequate in your opinion and we should give them more money? Or, that our political leaders should demonstrate adequate skills by using the money they already receive more wisely?

ComradeAnon

August 8th, 2012
8:16 am

The CITIZENS of Georgia complained about traffic for DECADES. All we got was more lanes on a few roads. Except where a road could bring economic development. BUSINESS complains about traffic and the republicans see who can felate them the fastest by telling us we have to increase our sales tax by almost 17% (where I live). That would be the Taxes are Kenyan Socialism, Government is Evil republicans who wanted a giant tax increase. This is yet another example of republican hypocrisy. Hypocrisy so bad even republicans didn’t fall for it. And that has to be monumental hypocrisy for a republican to get it. The Georgia Legislature is just a bunch of Georgia versions of Michele Bachmann, Steve King and Louie Gohmert. Until Metro Atlanta builds a real transit system, traffic will get worse. Even with it, it will be very hard to get us out of our cars. And with the fear that transit would bring “those people” into “my” community, ain’t nothing gonna happen. You get the government you voted for.

Out By The Pond

August 8th, 2012
8:17 am

$0.27. That is what the state tax on a gallon of gas needs to be to equal the gas tax of the 70s and 80s, based on the concept of MPG. But this is no longer a valid way to raise money for transportation. With a Chevy Volt 80% of my driving goes untaxed. We need a new tax structure based on how many miles a vehicle is driven. There are several problems with this approach. In addition to being burdensome to collect we miss those tax dollars of the snowbirds who buy gas on their way between there homes in the frozen north and sunny Fl.

The ball is in the legislatures court. Be bold, be brave and raise the tax on fuel, or continue to be the gutless wonders that you have shown yourselves to be , stick your head in the sand and do nothing.

TaxPayer

August 8th, 2012
8:17 am

Not to worry. I believe there are more than enough churches and carpetbaggers available in Georgia to fill any void left by further defunding of the education system. All they need is access to money. I’m thinking the federal student loan program should do nicely. Parents can just access that for the money needed to put their children through a quality k-12 program. Anyway, when can we expect to see our property taxes cut. I need my tax cut fix bad. I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms.

Chris Sanchez

August 8th, 2012
8:21 am

Jay:

You have mistaken the failure of the T-SPLOST to win voter approval with a lacking of a funding mechanism to address traffic congestion projects. Nothing could be further from the truth. Voters are perfectly willing to fund projects that will actually address traffic congestion. Regrettably the project list that was put forth would have done nothing to improve traffic congestion while dumping billions into economic development instead. An expert in support of the T-SPLOST from the Brookings Institute even admitted that transit projects will not improve traffic congestion and their purpose is economic development.

Since voters were forced to vote on a economic development plan disguised as relief of traffic congestion, we said no. Get the engineers together and come up with a plan that will address traffic congestion, be completed in ten years when such a tax expires and excludes economic development (a.k.a. transit) and it will pass voter scrutiny. If transit supporters feel so strongly about adding transit infrastructure then propose those projects, the funding mechanism for both the capital expenditure and ongoing expenses and let the voters decide.

Over 90% of people in metro Atlanta agree that traffic congestion is an issue. We know what the problem is and are willing to do something about. Stop trying to boondoggle the people with graft and pork laden legislation. We are a lot smarter than we are given credit for!

Brosephus™

August 8th, 2012
8:22 am

they then Macgyvered a flawed T-SPLOST process and forced it upon local officials and voters.

How dare you discombobulate the the legacy of Angus MacGyver in such a manner. He would never concoct such crap as what the Georgia Assemby put together. MacGyver’s contraptions usually worked and/or had logic used that showed they could work. The T-SPLOST crap wasn’t going to work at all. The GOP has basically put Georgia in the bathtub. I’m just waiting for them to call Grover in to start running the water.

Mike Smith

August 8th, 2012
8:23 am

Two things should be done immediately:
1. Educate the public in regards to slow traffic moving right. This would open up the flow of traffic, and allow traffic to get to its destination, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on the road. It would also eliminate the dangerous clusters of vehicles you get when traffic backs up behind those slow people in the inside lanes.
2. Open up those HOV lanes to regular traffic. That would give you 20% more highway space, and it’s already there.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 8th, 2012
8:23 am

We need a new tax structure based on how many miles a vehicle is driven.

that might make sense when a) non-gasoline-dependent vehicles like your Volt constitute a nontrivial number of miles driven, and b) virtually every car on the road will have the tracking technology to accomplish what you propose cost-effectively.

For now, a higher gasoline tax makes much more sense.

Out By The Pond

August 8th, 2012
8:24 am

One other caveat of a motor fuel tax increase would be the elimination of the politically appointed Transportation Czar and return the planning, design, and implementation to the professionals.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 8th, 2012
8:24 am

Two things should be done immediately:

you forgot:

3) re-arrange the deck chairs.

Peadawg

August 8th, 2012
8:27 am

“Educate the public in regards to slow traffic moving right. This would open up the flow of traffic, and allow traffic to get to its destination, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on the road. It would also eliminate the dangerous clusters of vehicles you get when traffic backs up behind those slow people in the inside lanes.”

Amen.

Adam

August 8th, 2012
8:27 am

If it’s local I generally don’t know enough to comment (I’m not local to Georgia).

Therefore, I await the next “but but but Obama” post. :D

ty webb

August 8th, 2012
8:27 am

yeah, so what’s the big deal… they only wanted just a little more money.

curious

August 8th, 2012
8:28 am

Ken,

Probably 99% of our present day Republicans were Democrats. The real Republican party hasn’t arrived in Georgia, yet.

Woody

August 8th, 2012
8:28 am

And yet… people keep electing them. The current state of affairs is not the fault of the Republican Party. They’re just being Republicans. The current state of affairs is the fault of the Democratic Party, which has been strangely silent and ineffective for quite a while now. One could wonder if the Georgia Democratic organization had been taken over in secret by a Republican fifth column, or at least paid large sums of money to remain useless. Might be a juicy AJC story, there.

Brosephus™

August 8th, 2012
8:28 am

Illinois is governed by 99% Democratics. They have very high taxes, toll roads, unions, very broke pension funds and many other negatives. Let’s not copy them.

Georgia is governed by 90% Republicans. We have low taxes, toll roads, shrinking drinking water, broken schools, very broken infrastructure, and many other negatives. We are no different. We’re just running off the rails of a different ideological path instead of having leadership do what’s good and right for the state.

Thomas

August 8th, 2012
8:30 am

Correct- our Republican run state gov’t is “less than adequate”.

Thank goodness the democratic led City of Atlanta has been a shining light over the decades?????

Is anyone else following that the lottery is low on funds, cutting education funding, while announcing record receipts and continuing to put out the most horrible commercials.

For those who are narrow minded- blame the “other” party. For those who are truly liberal, bright thinkers, continue to blame and work to improve both parties.

Not Blind

August 8th, 2012
8:30 am

Read my lips, NO NEW TAXES !

b-troll

August 8th, 2012
8:32 am

generally agree Jay

MARTA could use some reforming though.

But that’s not overly relevant to the need for more infrastructure.

Get your keyboards ducktaped to your steering wheel. You’ll have to be working behind the wheel for a long time

curious

August 8th, 2012
8:32 am

A large majority of our politicans select their party afillation based on “how much money can I get my hands on”.

Gerald

August 8th, 2012
8:32 am

Ken:

Leave aside the fact that Illinois was a Republican-leaning swing state until very recently, or that Illinois is not nearly the basket case that the GOP only began to claim it was when Obama was elected, and will cease baiting the state when Obama is no longer in office, you are playing the common game of using one extreme (Illinois) against another (Georgia). In the process, you are ignoring the huge, vast middle ground that exists.

Georgia is 49th in transportation spending. Meaning behind some very conservative states like Texas, Florida and Utah. And behind very sparsely populated states like Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas … states that have 3 or fewer congressmen. And I don’t buy the “corruption/politicians haven’t earned our trust” nonsense. Show me the state where its politicians are squeaky clean, absent scandal and exhibit a top level of competence.

Now personally, I would rather money be spent on education – magnet schools for K-12 and universities – so that we can grow our own jobs rather than try to beg, borrow, bribe and steal them from somewhere else. Most of the economic boom from the 70s to the 90s were companies that Georgia Tech, Emory and UGA grads started. We need to get back to that. But conservatives need to quit it with the intellectually dishonest arguments. Working to remain competitive with other states economically is not big government for big government’s sake.

Butch Cassidy (I)

August 8th, 2012
8:33 am

On the bright side, this is the perfect opportunity for the “bootstrappers” to step up to the plate. Next time I’m in Atlanta, I’m sure I’ll see hundreds of thousands of private citizens out paving roads and laying down rail lines. Hell, with all that “personal responsibilty”, Atlanta could become a shining beacon of hope to those who hate taxes and want government out of their lives. Good Luck! :)

Cecil34

August 8th, 2012
8:33 am

The real taxing problem here is not the state income tax, it is the Federal income tax.

Couple that with property taxes, car tag taxes, and whatever else the governments concoct to collect “taxes”, it is clear that folks are fed up with all the multiple-dipping in our pockets for their cut of “taxes”.

The problem is that the forefathers did not put into the constitution a clause which stated that:

“Any and all taxes collected from any level of government combined shall not exceed 10% of total gross individual income in one calendar year.”

That one clause could have virtually guaranteed solvent government budgets because they would be forced to. It would have been the one way that government could have kept themselves honest.

But they had no way of knowing that governments refuse to run to budgets.

The other issue is the quality and honesty of politicians themselves, which is haphazard at best. Term limits need to be insituted, and elimination of PAC’s and other lobbyists and special-interest groups would at least make it appear less dishonest.

No faith in the quality of politician now.

I could go on and on but you get my drift.

I could c

Brosephus™

August 8th, 2012
8:34 am

Educate the public in regards to slow traffic moving right. This would open up the flow of traffic, and allow traffic to get to its destination, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on the road.

So, how does that help traffic congestion at rush hour loads? Where are those cars going to go then? That sounds good in moderate traffic, but the best way to reduce traffic is to reduce the number of cars on the road. Less cars = less traffic.

Atlanta is the largest metro city I’ve ever set foot in where I had to rent a car if I wanted to visit the local attractions. Most any other major city you go to has transit options that will put you right at their tourist attractions or within close walking distance. I can’t understand why people here don’t want a better transit system when we try like hell to attract all these conventions and stuff. Conventions bring people and money. When they have the ability to move beyond the city core, they have the ability to put their money in places beyond the city core.

Too bad our scared sh*tless suburbanites are too blinded by partisaned ignorance to see how they are cutting themselves off from increased spending in their areas.

godless heathen

August 8th, 2012
8:34 am

The people aren’t stupid. They can drive around Atlanta and the State and see Federal & State DOT money being thrown away with both hands. They can read the TspLOST project list and realize there was very little in there that would help their situation. Clearly a failure in leadership.

ty webb

August 8th, 2012
8:35 am

“We need a new tax structure based on how many miles a vehicle is driven.”

already exists…it’s called the gas tax.

Robbie

August 8th, 2012
8:36 am

Transit Hypocrisy

The Sierra Club’s Smart Growth approach is what Randall Pozdena called “The New Segregation.”

kayaker 71

August 8th, 2012
8:36 am

So, Bookman would have us believe that the evil Republicans who have been in power a relatively short time compared to the 130yrs of previous Democratic leadership, are the cause of all of these Georgia citizens rejecting the T-Splost. News Flash, Bookman….. the average Georgia voter no longer trusts any of these politicians, whether they be Democratic or Republican. State politicians are all the same in the eyes of the average Georgia voter…. corrupt and self serving, no matter the party. It all comes down to trust. Nothing else. They just don’t trust them to spend our money wisely. And they don’t trust them by a two to one majority.

Chris Sanchez

August 8th, 2012
8:37 am

Brosephus™:

Crumbling infrastructure? Really? That bastion of conservative thought CNBC ranks GA 3rd in the nation in its most recent state rankings (even discussed in AJC the last week of July). Broken schools? In Atlanta certainly but there are many many more whose teachers care about educating their students and do an outstanding job doing so. Water management could be better but keep in mind the federal government is involved there so it is not as easy as we might think.

Does Georgia have areas for improvement? Absolutely! Is the state in the condition you describe? Hardly!

GT

August 8th, 2012
8:40 am

It may be a hidden blessing. Do we really want a state so out of touch with the rest of the country any more than it is right now? It is like they are catching hooping cough in Alabama, do you want to send more kids to Alabama to get sick. Let this world die a natural death. Atlanta was a myth, Georgia and its backwoods are a reality.

godless heathen

August 8th, 2012
8:40 am

Don’t you just love the people that think traffic jams are caused by slow drivers? Tailgating and rapid lane switching cause as much traffic problems as slow people in the fast lane. You just can’t push but so many cars down the same pipe at a time.

Janet Livingston

August 8th, 2012
8:40 am

I agree with Mike Smith’s earlier comment that opening HOV lanes to all would offer 20% more car room driving and having slower vehicles in right lanes would allow for more even flow of traffic. It is about defensive driving and being courteous to drivers when using turn signals or allowing cars egress and ingress. That will allow for fewer accidents which really hold traffic up during rush hours and remove much of the congestion. Why our legislators can’t use little common sense is beyond me. This can be had for money or taxes. But our state is so under educated that it probably doesn’t register.

Thomas

August 8th, 2012
8:42 am

2 things Butch-

1) don’t really need you to come to Atlanta
2) we could implement a migration tax for underperforming northerners who continue to move to Atlanta- problem(s) solved

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

August 8th, 2012
8:43 am

Paralysis in government is a good thing. Keeps them off our backs. We should give them all 11 months vacation per year. When you cut their cash, they can not make as much mischief. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Gale

August 8th, 2012
8:43 am

I want to know how we train managers that many jobs can be performed very productively from home, or satellite office, thus avoiding traffic. That would take a lot of cars off the roads.

curious

August 8th, 2012
8:43 am

Each political party is so intent on “winning”, the rest of us are left holding the bag.

Cutty

August 8th, 2012
8:44 am

ken
August 8th, 2012
8:11 am

You speak negatively about my beloved Illinois, but you can catch a train in South Bend, IN, Milwaukee or Madison, WI and commute all the way to downtown Chicago. And I bet you’ll be home before most people here can get off 575.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

August 8th, 2012
8:44 am

The “people” have spoken.

It’s called democracy.

Get over it.

Peter

August 8th, 2012
8:45 am

Well the leadership has been Sonny Purdue, ,who worked wonders spending 20 million on a fish farm in his district……… worked on road building adjacent to his personal properties, along with continuing of the GA 400 toll, and over spending for a big tract of GA property.

Sonny also doubled his self worth while in the Governors chair, all while the recession was in full swing, and boy getting info on those iffy personal loans has been impossible.

Now we have Nathan Deal, who lied to the state about his personal finances, or he would not be the Governor today, most likely losing the run off.

With this type of leadership at the top..how is the state to move forward ?

Apparently Republican voters don’t care, as they are the ones controlling the eventual out come for the state currently.

Again the party of the rich, and the lemmings that support them, are concerned about cars, roads, and forget about anything else…..especially any real improvement to mass transit, while the Atlanta regional area, becomes the example of what not to do, to attract Corporations, and real economic growth.

gadem

August 8th, 2012
8:46 am

It would be downright comical if it wasn’t so sad. It pains any rational person to see how the GOP has continually lowered the bar on social progress, whether it be education, transportation or healthcare. It seems that anything that would benefit the public and society is taboo for the GOP. But they wrap themselves in the American flag and thump their Bibles claiming to be Christians. It is surprising that their heads don’t explode from the contradictions.

Granny Godzilla - Union Thugette

August 8th, 2012
8:46 am

a link to the Chris Sanchez CNBC rating….

http://www.cnbc.com/id/46413842

see where we rate in other areas

not nearly as cut and dried as he would have it seem.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

August 8th, 2012
8:47 am

P.S.

I still think Jay owns some land along a proposed MARTA route.

Dr. Beaulieu

August 8th, 2012
8:48 am

Butch Cassidy (I)

August 8th, 2012
8:48 am

Thomas – “1) don’t really need you to come to Atlanta
2) we could implement a migration tax for underperforming northerners who continue to move to Atlanta- problem(s) solved”

2 things Thomas –

1) I used to live in Atlanta from 1997 to 2001 when I was working at JP Turner. I moved to NYC to take a position wioth Citi where I retired in 2008.

2) I moved to Atlanta from Salt Lake City, UT. So unless you consider someone who grew up out west and retired before the age of 50 after a successful career in finance to be an “underperforming northerner” then I suggest you take another tac.

Interested observer

August 8th, 2012
8:49 am

Jay, you hit the nail on the head. The Republicans got into power not just in Georgia, but nationally, by convincing voters that government is the enemy. Now that they’re in power, they can’t govern because the public has no faith in government.

At the same time, the GOP very successfully “educated” voters that all taxes are evil. The T-SPLOST vote reflects that. If you can’t levy taxes, you can’t govern.

Now the GOP majority is caught in a trap of its own making.

This is by no means to say that the Democrats are better stewards of tax dollars, or that Democrats did not follow the GOP program and rant against taxes and government in general. All the General Assembly has to do to get adequate funding for transportation is raise its motor fuels tax. Would anyone notice at the pump much of a difference if the state DOUBLED its motor fuels tax? Probably not, but that wouldn’t keep millions of Georgians from heart palpitations should such a move be proposed.

The means to fund transportation are here. The problem is voters don’t trust their government, thanks to decades of the GOP telling us the government is the enemy and a decade of proving it to us by their actions once they got in control.

Brain

August 8th, 2012
8:49 am

I read this an marvel at the abject stupidity and intransigence of the modern day Georgia GOP. Faith in our Savior is a powerful and wonderful thing – and we define it (faith) as believing based upon spiritual apprehension, rather than proof.
However, when we direct our faith towards things than CAN be proven (or dis-proven), the results are catastrophic. See the modern day GOP – faith in so many things without factual basis or historical precedent. In fact, most of the GOP platform can be factually disproven. But don’t tell that to the faithful.

God save us.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 8th, 2012
8:50 am

Don’t you just love the people that think traffic jams are caused by slow drivers?

Hey, at least we haven’t had the “if they just timed the traffic lights! it costs nothing! that’d go a long way for realz!” post. Yet.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

August 8th, 2012
8:51 am

Jay,

Fun topic. It seems to me that all taxpayers, clowns and jokers, continue to lose trust in government of any kind with our tax dollars. Excepting those buying into the Obama led war on the rich and those not currently paying taxes, not even the middle class (whoever that is) doesn’t trust sending anymore money to governments…

Was this money at risk to being swallowed by general fund and thus subject to misdirection or was it to be held in segregated trust like vehicle?

Notsurprised

August 8th, 2012
8:52 am

Georgia natives(of which I am one)who live outside the metro area couldn’t care less about Marta. Most have probably never rode a Marta train or bus and would choose other means of transportation even if Marta was available. Of the 5 million plus people in the metro area(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_metropolitan_area) it seems only a low percentage had enough confidence in Marta to cast a yes vote on July 31st. Quite simply, this was a vote of no confidence in Marta. If the Marta funding portion were taken out of the vote it would have had a better chance of passing. I still think it would have been voted down.

I’ve lived in Georgia over 35 years and I’ve rode a Marta train once. Ask other native Georgians how many times they have rode Marta and I bet it’s very few. It’s dirty, poorly ran, and has too much crime.(http://www.itsmarta.com/crime-comparison.aspx)

No, thank you.

Taxi Smith

August 8th, 2012
8:54 am

According to the INRIX website, which ranks cities by congestion, Atlanta ranks as 21st in North America, behind such worthies as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bridgeport, Austin, Washington, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Portland OR, Baltimore, San Diego and Tampa. Not to mention several cities in Canada. It seems to me this is a national problem, not just a Georgia problem, and to suggest that Atlanta is going to wither away because of traffic congestion is just silly.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 8th, 2012
8:54 am

I still think Jay owns some land along a proposed MARTA route.

So, it could never be mere enlightened self-interest that drives an opinion columnist to advocate on behalf of this or that measure? it’s likely some crass, direct financial reward?

Is that your default position when you read stuff from the left AND from the right, or just from the left?

Or is it just Jay who’s so crass, in your mind?

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

August 8th, 2012
8:55 am

Brain,

No way the GOP has a corner on the BS and disceit market….I see them as pretty equal….like you, the whole invisible friend thingy and the far right in general scare the shi% out of me but no more than the far left who simply want to throw more of other peoples money at their BS….

Ralph

August 8th, 2012
8:55 am

Really, Jay? First of all, the size of the state’s annual budget … not its comparison to the state’s GNP has grown significantly since 1992. Secondly, maybe it was manner in which T-SPOLT funds would be appropriated was the problem it failed. Lastly, every liberal’s first response has always been “to raise taxes.” Or, Jay in your case, to support a tax increase. Maybe a more prudent approach would be to revise the antiquated congressional district spending approach by GDOT. Just saying…

Not Blind

August 8th, 2012
8:56 am

I have the solution. You tax lovers just figure out how much money you have left over from necessities every month and then write a check to the state of GA every month for that amount. You won’t need savings accounts, or vacations, or hobbies or anything like that because the government will be there supplying all your needs.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

August 8th, 2012
8:57 am

stands:

Lighten up. Ever heard of satire?

P.S.

Government is not the enemy ………. but sometimes it is not a friend.

Buck

August 8th, 2012
8:59 am

I have lost confidence in the Bunch running this State. I am a Conservative. These folks have bought into the idea of tax increases to fix problems. Wrong. It is time for a Conservative Republican Party again. Reagan Conservatives. Say goodbye to ‘NoReal’ Deal and Dennis Ralston, two tax increase supporters. Ethics, what Ethics. They are listening and taking gifts/money from lobbyists but not listening to the voters. Clean the Republican House. We want Conservatives and Ethical Government.

Blind Transparency

August 8th, 2012
9:00 am

Nice article Mr. Bookman! Do you have a list of the contractors and how they are affiliated with the politicians that were rallying for the TSPLOST? The people of this state realize that we do have a transportation problem but feel as if they would not be benefiting from more roads and less transit. I am a Democrat and voted against the TSPLOST. I would rather have my pennies going towards the education of our kids! If Governor Deal feels as if he wants to slam the door on creating another referendum, then let it be. Maybe we can elect a Governor that has the interest of the people of this state instead of looking out for the best interest of their families and friends!!

Joe Hussein Mama

August 8th, 2012
9:00 am

Thomas — “2 things Butch-”

“1) don’t really need you to come to Atlanta”
“2) we could implement a migration tax for underperforming northerners who continue to move to Atlanta- problem(s) solved”

If you weren’t a n00b on this blog, you might realize just how hilarious your criticism of Butch is. And it’s not him I’m laughing at; it’s you. :D

JKL2

August 8th, 2012
9:00 am

ken- Illinois is governed by 99% Democratics. They have very high taxes, toll roads, unions, very broke pension funds and many other negatives. Let’s not copy them.

Already working on that at the federal level (same crooks running both oporations). No problem obama can’t solve without throwing a checkbook at it.

Vote obama: Free money for everyone!

Butch Cassidy (I)

August 8th, 2012
9:03 am

Not Blind – “You tax lovers just figure out how much money you have left over from necessities every month and then write a check to the state of GA every month for that amount.”

Great, as long as you tax haters promise to stay off the roads, home school your children and fund your private police and fire departments. Oh, and be sure to dig a well on your property. I’m sure the taxpayers wouldn’t appreciate paying for your water.

Hamiltion

August 8th, 2012
9:03 am

In “How Cities Work” Alex Marshall posited that the real forces that shape cities are transportation systems, industry and business, and political decision making. Notice Transportation systems is first on the list, though the other three are probably needed to make the first happen.
Speaking of the myth, the current size of the Federal Government workforce is no bigger than it was 20 years ago. (yes, the one Obama has “ballooned” and will drown us in come next year).
There’s another book, The City in Mind, by James Howard Kunstler that examined Atlanta 10 years ago or more. The conclusion: our suburban ways would result in an impoverished ring around Atlanta followed by “significant” depopulation of the region.

TaxPayer

August 8th, 2012
9:07 am

And it seems like only yesterday–maybe a few days longer than that–that we had a primary where most of those not-to-be-trusted Georgia Republican politicians got re-elected. If you do not trust the politicians you voted into office, why do you vote for them.

markie mark

August 8th, 2012
9:09 am

Chris Sanchez for governor….only intelligent, thoughtful posts I have seen yet….

Cyril

August 8th, 2012
9:09 am

Jay, please keep writing these articles and maintaining the pressure that something real and tangible be done. It seems you understand the urgency the state and this city are under. Unfortunately, it appears too much of the populace has fallen victim to the Republican rhetoric you have written about today, and they truly believe that all the government and its employees do is waste their money.

As a government employee who hasn’t had a raise in 5 years with all of my living expenses increasing rapidly, it saddens me to read those comments. As I know the efforts that I and other employees make every day for so many ungrateful people. That’s not to say there are not a few bad apples in the bunch, but I dare anyone who works in the private sector to look at their own companies to see that is just as true for them. The only difference is that you don’t have a Fox 5 “Investigative” journalist scouring over every detail of minutia by which your company operates. It’s the squeaky wheel syndrome, you aren’t concerned about shark attacks until it gets reported on every day.

Personally, I’m giving this state 2 more years, and if something isn’t done then I’m gone like a lot of others. Maybe I’ll go take one of the many consulting jobs I’ve been offered over the years and start making real money again, instead of dedicating my efforts to a state and populace that couldn’t care less.

Tired Taxpayer

August 8th, 2012
9:10 am

Our politicians don’t get it. For over a year they have been trying to convince our citizens that this transportation tax will solve our local driving challenges and help bring economic growth to our regional. Well maybe this will help them understand what some of us think about the tax they purposed.

First, we are all ready paying 7.5 cents a gallon state tax and 18.4 cents a gallon federal tax on each gallon of gas that we buy. That stream of revenue was created to help build and maintain our roads. So it is not like the GDOT doesn’t already have funding, they just don’t know how to use it.

Second, the GDOT did not do their homework when they came up with a list of projects that this funding was going towards. It was heavily in favor of mass transit spending. If you have sat in traffic anywhere in the area you will soon realize that mass transit is not the answer. The best projects that the GDOT came up with in the last 20 years was the extension of the GA 400 which has been paid for several times over with tolls, and the purposed outer perimeter which our previous governor cancelled. More buses in Atlanta or expanding the rail lines will not move enough people to solve our transportation issues, and those projects seem to always end up costing more to keep running than they generate in income and become a continuing burden on the tax payers.

I live in Dawson County and my local experience with the GDOT has illustrated that they don’t have a clue. They had purposed a 100 million dollar fix to a local intersection that works fine. They wanted to build a fly over that would have destroyed all of the local businesses that have grown around that area. After someone figured out that we don’t have and extra 100 million to waste, the GDOT decided that a simple 10 million dollar fix would do nicely and create a new intersection that looked like a plate of spaghetti. That proposal is waiting for funding. The projects that made the list to be fixed by the new tax so as to provide more economic opportunity for our local community is to build a round-about on a road that is not that heavy used and widen about a mile of a road that is also not that heavy traveled….all that for just 1% of everything my family buys for the next 10 years.

This tax was a substitute for our politician and the GDOT doing their jobs and figuring out what we really need. If the GDOT would quite wasting money on projects that don’t address the real issues and concentrate on fixing the big problems, they might find that they have enough to get the job done. For me, I am tired of the county, state and federal government needing more and more money when they clearly waste so much! Some of us feel like we are already taxed enough. It seems like goverment at every level have projects that we need to fund. Well so do I.

Thomas Heyward Jr.

August 8th, 2012
9:10 am

Butch Cassidy (I)

August 8th, 2012
9:03 am

Not Blind – “You tax lovers just figure out how much money you have left over from necessities every month and then write a check to the state of GA every month for that amount.”

Great, as long as you tax haters promise to stay off the roads, home school your children and fund your private police and fire departments. Oh, and be sure to dig a well on your property. I’m sure the taxpayers wouldn’t appreciate paying for your water.
———————————————————————————————————————–
We would do this ..happily.
But goverment thugs will not let us.

Blind Transparency

August 8th, 2012
9:10 am

Hamiltion

August 8th, 2012
9:03 am

Speaking of the myth, the current size of the Federal Government workforce is no bigger than it was 20 years ago. (yes, the one Obama has “ballooned” and will drown us in come next year).
______

Where did you come up with that myth?

The Incredible Shrinking Federal Workforce

Another myth debunked: Contrary to your belief that the Federal government is growing and growing in terms of its role in the government, it turns out that in one crucial respect, it’s actually shrinking.

As a share of all workers, Federal workers have been declining pretty steadily over the last several decades. That number has risen a little bit under Obama — due to some growth in the Federal workforce and the dramatic shrinking of the private workforce — but the ratio is still near the all-time rock bottom

Read more: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-09-09/markets/30155186_1_federal-workforce-federal-workers-myth#ixzz22xZalql9

too little time

August 8th, 2012
9:11 am

no conceivable funding mechanism

Hyperbole much? There are not end to “conceivable funding mechanisms”. We could, for example, use motor fuel taxes to go to transportation instead of the general coffers. I (and thousands of others) have conceived that, which makes your entire morning’s blog nothing more than blather.

Gordon

August 8th, 2012
9:11 am

T-SPLOST failed because of 2 things:

1) The well-earned reputation of government for not being good stewards with our money. Both R’s and D’s.
2) Too many things that nothing to do with solving the problem it was meant to solve: congestion. Even those who supported T-SPLOST would say “it’s not perfect, but its the best thing we’ve got to solve the problem.” No one expects perfection, but way too much of it went towards things we don’t need.

TaxPayer

August 8th, 2012
9:12 am

As for the engineers stepping up to the plate and offering up true solutions to Georgia’s transportation problems, they got cut to make room for more political appointees. Not to worry though. Those engineers are smart enough to figure out how to work out their transportation issues and avoid sitting in traffic hours a day. They’ll be ok. I guarantee it.

Welcome to the Occupation

August 8th, 2012
9:13 am

The good guvna: Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how the blackies, I mean, MARTA operates

zeke

August 8th, 2012
9:14 am

once a penal colony…..

F. Sinkwich

August 8th, 2012
9:15 am

We now interrupt this program for the following lib ilk PSA. From WaPo:

“President Obama’s reelection team has taken canvassing to the next technological level, introducing a free iPhone app that maps the location of nearby Democrats, identifying them by first name, last initial and home address.”

Con men from around the country have embraced this new app as an easy way to locate the most gullible among us. B & E professionals now have an easy way to identify those less likely to be enjoying our 2nd Amendment rights.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming…

Gordon

August 8th, 2012
9:17 am

“Georgia political leaders have succeeded in delegitimizing government as a tool for fixing not just transportation but a whole range of problems, including education.”

No, the actual results have succeeded in doing that. At some point you have to look at the results, and they aren’t good in many things the government spends money on, including education. More money doesn’t always equal better results.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

August 8th, 2012
9:17 am

Welcome,

Probably accurate thoughts about what is rattling around governors brain but didn’t all the elected ones want this additional tax to spend?

Butch Cassidy (I)

August 8th, 2012
9:17 am

TH – “We would do this ..happily.
But goverment thugs will not let us.”

Well, if you get lucky, maybe your community could be flattened in a Tornado like Ringold was. When GEMA and FEMA come to help you out, simply tell them “thanks, but no thanks”. ;)

ty webb

August 8th, 2012
9:18 am

“As a government employee who hasn’t had a raise in 5 years with all of my living expenses increasing rapidly, it saddens me to read those comments. As I know the efforts that I and other employees make every day for so many ungrateful people.”

yeah, and these ingrates have the audacity to pay your salary too…what horrible people.

Native Atlantan

August 8th, 2012
9:20 am

No one has mentioned the money wasted by duplicating services 159 times for the 159 counties. 159 school systems, road departments, DFCS, courts, health departments, departments of juvenile justice, and county law enforcement, including jails. Many Georgians see state and local government as great examples of political patronage. We have counties with less than 20,000 residents but with complete, independent county infrastructures. Consolidate rural counties and improve the efficiency of state and local government before asking to increase sales taxes again. Sales taxes have already been increased from 3 to 7 percent over the last 40 years.

Brosephus™

August 8th, 2012
9:22 am

Chris Sanches:

Crumbling infrastructure? Really? That bastion of conservative thought CNBC ranks GA 3rd in the nation in its most recent state rankings (even discussed in AJC the last week of July).

I will rely on engineers over a news organization anyday of the week.

http://www.ascega.org/georgia-report-card/

With new grades for the first time since 2003, Georgia’s infrastructure has shown very little improvement and once again received a cumulative grade of C.

Now, I know being a C student was good enough to be president, but when you look at the grades that make up that C average, you have to consider the fact that the rankings of airports and our energy ranking was the only decent grades we received, and those were B’s.

http://www.ascega.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2009_GA_ASCE_Report_Card.pdf

There’s the complete report for you to see for yourself. Hopefully, you’re not one of those who don’t read documents more than 3 pages long. There, you’ll find out that Georgia’s infrastructure is effed up. If we’re the 3rd best in the nation, as CNBC says, then the country is really fubar.

I’ll leave you in lala land with your view on schools. If you think broken schools are only due to teacher issues, you’ve already lost.

Cyril

August 8th, 2012
9:23 am

Ty, I’d be more than happy to come to where you work and talk about how lazy and what a horrible job you do all day. I’m sure you will not have a problem with that, right?

Not Blind

August 8th, 2012
9:24 am

@ Butch Cassidy. I didn’t say the conservatives were going to pay NO taxes, just no new ones. I would have never used the belt line and since the Thrashers left town I have no need for Marta, and I would be unlikely to benefit from a new tower at a tiny airport, etc. The people that want this stuff should be the ones paying for it. I ALREADY helped pay for all the existing roads and infrastructure and their upkeep so you can’t retroactively kick me off them because I don’t support new slush fund money being falsely called another name.

We already pay enough taxes to allow the government to do an effective job at what their core responsibilities are supposed to be. The problem is that the government has lost sight of these core responsibilities. The conservative voters see this and want to put the brakes on the runaway politicians from both parties. The liberals don’t see this and want to burden everybody with higher taxes that will then be used for “more of the same” pork.

Jackie

August 8th, 2012
9:24 am

Same arguments used in the early 80’s are being used today to defeat a comprehensive metro-wide transportation system.
Atlanta and Georgia rose to national prominence because of the transportation infrastructure, namely Hartsfield.
Now, the city has outgrown its physical infrastructure and the voters are reluctant to commit a sales-tax increase in order to relieve the congestion, the problem will only get much worse and the city will lose its prominence in the business community.
What next???????????

bob

August 8th, 2012
9:25 am

Those stupid repubs ! Why can’t we go back a few short years ago when dems had total control. Who doesn’t remember that we were number one in infrastructure and education and many other areas. Now, after just a few years of repub leadership we are not number one in education or infrastucture. Why can’t the nutty tea party acknowledge how great our state was under total dem control ?