UPDATED: Crossover Day, and what did tea party learn from SPLOST votes?

UPDATED at 1:11 p.m.: The Sunday sales bill, SB 10, passed the Senate 32-22, after about three hours of debate. It moves on to the House, where support for the bill is believed to be high.


Today is Crossover Day at the Legislature, and I’ll be tweeting updates throughout the day. You can follow those here. Among the bills that appear early on the Senate’s docket are Sunday sales of alcohol and legislation to add foster kids and children of military families to the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship — the state’s voucher program, which would be renamed the Georgia Educational Freedom Act if the bill becomes law.

In the meantime, I’m curious what yesterday’s SPLOST votes in Cobb County and elsewhere mean for the prospects of the transportation sales tax, to be considered in a referendum next year. The “yes” votes won by an exceedingly small margin — 79 votes out of almost 43,000 cast. But that’s nothing new in Cobb: In 2005, the SPLOST passed by just 114 votes.

The difference between 2005 and yesterday is the tea party, which tried to mobilize anti-tax folks in Cobb but came up short in its goal. Turnout was fairly low, at 10.9 percent, but that’s the kind of election in which a small but motivated group ought to have an outsized influence.

In Newton County, a SPLOST passed more comfortably. In Barrow, Jackson and Madison counties, to the northeast of Atlanta, SPLOST votes passed easily.

The transportation sales tax may be a different story because it will get more attention and the anti-tax groups may be able to achieve more of a critical mass (since they will be organizing across 10 metro Atlanta counties). Unlike these other SPLOSTs, this will be a new tax rather than the extension of an existing one. And the SPLOST votes got in line first — meaning some voters might have been OK with one penny tax but not with another one.

The project list will be crucial, and there’s a lot of politics to be played out on that front between now and November 2012. Expect a big, expensive campaign from the business community and — assuming they work out their political differences — from local governments promoting the transportation tax.

The question we can’t answer yet is: What did the tea party folks, many of them new to this kind of politics, learn from yesterday’s votes?

Check back for updates from Crossover Day — and don’t forget to check the Twitter feed — but that ought to be enough grist for now.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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39 comments Add your comment

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 16th, 2011
10:40 am

Although I am not a tea-partier, I am a wannabe. I learned yesterday that a large number of voters have not yet learned the virtues of lower taxes and less government appropriation of private wealth, but have reinforced the mean desire that allows them to spend other people’s money without pangs of conscience.


March 16th, 2011
10:41 am

What the Tea Party and others should’ve learned is; $300K+ for a special election after a major election only 4-5 months ago to pass more special interests wants for an already cash strapped county. A waste of funds = more of the same.

Here Spot

March 16th, 2011
10:43 am

I hate SPLOST.

Cobb County Voter

March 16th, 2011
10:59 am

I’ll tell you one thing the Tea Party members from Cobb County learned…it sucks not to have business money on your side.

The astroturf organization, “Citizen’s for Cobb’s Future”, illegally used taxpayer money (specifically $150,00 from two Community Improvement Districts) and business money (the CEO of GAS South was among the Chairpersons) to make telephone calls and expensive direct mail advertising to advocate for passing this tax. Without that money on their side, that is without such a large amount of “free speech” on their side, SPLOST definitely would have failed in Cobb.


March 16th, 2011
11:01 am

The question we can’t answer yet is: What did the tea party folks, many of them new to this kind of politics, learn from yesterday’s votes?

That if you want to get your message out, do it the old fashioned way — buy TV time.

Captain Anti-Liberal

March 16th, 2011
11:03 am

I do not like SPLOST initiatives quite as much as “Here Spot” @ 10:43 am does.

Georgia Voter

March 16th, 2011
11:12 am

About the transportation sales tax to be voted on in November, Wingfield wrote, “Expect a big, EXPENSIVE campaign from the business community…”

My friends, we live in a plutocracy. All those tax cuts for corporations, large estates, dividends, capital gains, and upper income brackets? Tax cuts that primarily benefit those at the very top? They’re being shifted to everybody else.

I’m gonna to be okay, but those hit the hardest are the poor and middle class. Georgians have cheered such tax cuts, but the end result is lower taxes for those at the very top and higher taxes for those at the bottom and in the middle.

Well done, Georgia. Bravo.


March 16th, 2011
11:19 am

SPLOST is such an ineffecient way for a city/county to tax and get funds as so many hands are in the shake down. I have concluded that it is a direct measure of the voters lack of fairness and inteligence when they vote one in. Most who vote for it think the other guy is paying, when in fact they are voting taxes on themselves. If they understood, they would NOT vote for them, but their minds are closed.


March 16th, 2011
11:33 am

The lesson to be learned is that people want services from government.

Even the Tea Party has not learned to do without government services. They have moved the legislature to avoid the state handling Obamacare to now letting the Feds handle it. More big government.

Everyone needs to understand that the vast majority of Americans are confirmed, addicted socialist.


March 16th, 2011
11:50 am

I can tell you what the Tea Party learned from yesterday’s votes. Nothing, absolutely nothing. These people are narrow-minded fanatics who will stick to their beliefs even if no one votes their way.


March 16th, 2011
12:20 pm

Mostly that voters aren’t very bright and cannot do math.

I hate SPLOST, too!!


March 16th, 2011
12:20 pm

Or – that votes are being manupulated. Are these the touch screen voting machines?


March 16th, 2011
12:44 pm

Is it not possible that voters want a certain level of service from their government and understand that taxes are the price we pay for those services, and by extension the price we pay for civilization. Of course voters know they’re raising taxes on themselves. That’s a fairly reasonable choice sometimes.


March 16th, 2011
12:47 pm

I agree with Wingfield. A new penny is a much taller order than continuing an existing one. if the transportation project list is too heavily favoring suburbanites over urbanites or vice-versa, expect this thing to go down in flames in the metro area.


March 16th, 2011
1:06 pm

I predict it will fail in 2012 and Sunny will have effectively kicked it right on down the road. But hey, the way Georgians think, we should be returning to horse and buggy paths by then.


March 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

I gladly went out in the rain and cold to vote yes on SPLOST. Any Cobb residents who don’t think it has value should do all of their driving in Fulton. The amount you pay for car repairs after hitting all of those bumps and pot holes is much less than you’ll pay on penny sales tax.

Joe Schmoe

March 16th, 2011
1:25 pm

Finally, that dadgum bill made it out of hades call the GA Senate… So much for being close. Lets get on with business, and have the house and Gov. pass this quickly. SB-10 LIVES!


March 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

@Roads – I concur. Like you, I went after work and placed my “YES” vote. To do otherwise made no sense to me. The county has to have funding and, in my opinion, this is the fair manner by which to obtain that funding. Voting no to SPLOST would only lead to increased property taxes and debt which we, the property owners, would have to pay. With the sales tax, everyone making purchases in the county can assist.


March 16th, 2011
1:33 pm

If its legal the day of the week should not matter, nor should it be voted on. Why should my opinion matter if a person wants to sell beer any day of the week (legally) or if someone wants to buy a drink. If they can do it in Atlanta, it should be allowed in Hopeulikit. This local “vote” again is BS way to limit freedom.

Cyberian Man

March 16th, 2011
1:41 pm

It’s not the taxes, it’s the spending. Look at how they spent our money, installing miles and miles of cables to divide an already divided highway. What a waste. Now they want to add more hov lanes to highways to make them less efficient. These people dream up ways to spend money to serve their own interests. How about a one year moratorium on spending and see what we have next year to spend. Why do they constantly need to spend? It’s our hard earned dollars…..


March 16th, 2011
1:46 pm

@ WGD I am right there with you. Being a resident of Cobb certainly comes with its own tax benefits. I have to wonder how many commenters made it to the polls or are actual Cobb County residents.


March 16th, 2011
2:01 pm

Such a small amount of people (Cobb voters) get it their way. Tax votes for sales taxes should require a majority of the population in the county, not voters.


March 16th, 2011
2:14 pm

I believe the result on transportation tax will be different in that it will fail. Regardless if you are for or against it – I think Sonny’s decision to extend I400 toll makes it difficult for this to pass as his decision is a direct reminder that once the transportation tax is passed it will be used however those in power positions think best.

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 16th, 2011
2:33 pm

I’m not a Tea Partier but the SPLOST votes are always a foregone conclusion. The votes are always held at an odd time, at a good deal of extra expense to taxpayers, to insure a low turnout. That way the people pushing the SPLOST can mobilize their forces and know that the average voter won’t show up. These votes should be held in November, with the regular elections. That would save taxpayer money and get a more representative vote.

I’ve noticed that in most counties, there’ll be a full page ad supporting the SPLOST, with a list of supporters. That list will almost always be made up of high income people of the community. They are the ones who are least affected by a sales tax. A sales tax is the most regressive of taxes.

And for the record, my county was voting on a SPLOST yesterday, so it had no direct effect on me.

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 16th, 2011
2:38 pm

That should say my county wasn’t voting on a SPLOST yesterday.


March 16th, 2011
3:20 pm

Ragnar Danneskjöld:

Remember that, when you want a new road, a pothole filled, a new street light, a storm sewer repaired, cleanup after a nasty storm. Tax money is used to support the communities we live in. . .no tax money, no improvements or repairs. I guess folks like you will never be satisfied until the USA achieves 3rd world status.


March 16th, 2011
3:52 pm


The motto is “Lower taxes, Less government”. Not “No taxes, no government.”

On topic: This is great news on SB10. I love it!


March 16th, 2011
4:37 pm

I don’t think the Tea Party is wanting or willing to learn anything from yesterday’s vote. They want their ideology to prevail and they will do it any way they can.

Regarding the regional transportation tax, there is no plan B. So if the various regions want to improve the transportation options and funding of desired projects they need to vote in favor. If they vote against then you can live with the current transportation mess for the next 25 years.


March 16th, 2011
4:57 pm

Seems reasonable to me that all who enjoy the benefits of public goods like parks and roads should share in the expense of maintaining them, even the ones most affected by a sales tax.


March 16th, 2011
5:12 pm

So paying the highest taxes in the world and getting 3rd world services, I am supposed to just vote for even higher taxes? I want good roads, but making sure that big government stays big, is a good enough reason to vote NO on SPLOST.


March 16th, 2011
5:16 pm

SPLOSTs pass because the country is dominated by suckers. They always sell them as a way to keep property taxes down, but it never works and people (for the most part) never learn. We have SPLOSTs in my county, they’ve maxed out the millage for education and my property taxes still go up. Go figure.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

March 16th, 2011
5:17 pm

Take a drive through Cobb County to understand why they voted to fund transportation improvements, just sayin..


Let’s vote- Is obozo the worst leader the world has ever known? I mean, there’s no doubt that our little tard has unseated Napoleon but has he taken over Nero’s spot yet?

Discuss amongst yourselves.


March 16th, 2011
5:32 pm

The problem with Obama is that when he went to elementary, junior and high school he spent 9 of the 12 years in private “christian” schools.

No further discussion needed.


March 16th, 2011
5:41 pm

Once again, those narrow-minded Tea Party people already think they know everything. So, they are not able to learn anything.


March 16th, 2011
6:13 pm

I Report

Chairman Mao is the all-time world’s champion mass murderer. I think that qualifies him as the worst.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

March 16th, 2011
7:34 pm

OK, so he’s at least the second worst.

I’m on board with that.

Anybody else?

JF McNamara

March 17th, 2011
9:05 am

I think they learned that they can’t win in a low turnout election because only the more educated people will vote. It wasn’t a vote where anything with an (R) beside the name or anything they told the (R) base to vote for they would vote for and people chose common sense over irrational hate of taxation.

Cobb has one of the lowest tax rates in the state. Living in Cobb, I want it to be nice. I’ll pay more for it to be nice, because in the end of the day you get what you pay for.

If you’re too cheap to improve where you live, you’ll be living in a terrible part of town in the very near future. I guarantee the people on this board will be leading the chorus about how the county has gone down and they need to cut spending or move somewhere else even though they were the main reason the county went down.

West Cobb Mom

March 17th, 2011
9:54 am

I voted YES for the SPLOST because I agree with the people who said you get what you pay for…we keep a nice yard and a well maintained house because it helps our property value; so does a nice and well maintained county with first grade amenities!
The Tea Party people want to take THEIR opinion and stick the “will of the people” on it…the government just ignores the “will of the people”! None of them ever stop to consider that their “will” may not be what I want and since I’m part of “the people” the government isn’t ignoring everyone
I’m a registered Republican and I love SPLOTS, having an (R) beside your name doesn’t mean the government is evil and ALL taxes must be abolished; that’s what makes the Tea Party such a turn off to the majority of the population.
I’d rather pay as I go in my home and in my county…isn’t the Tea Party all about reducing debt?


March 17th, 2011
11:29 am