Taking a look at some T-SPLOST claims

The closer we get to the July 31 T-SPLOST referendum, it seems, the more claims we hear from the pro-tax campaign about its supposed benefits. Here’s the low-down on four common claims made about the $7.2 billion tax and the 157 projects it would fund.

1. Metro Atlanta commuters already pay a “congestion tax” of $924 a year.

This figure, taken from a study by the Texas Transportation Institute, accounts for the cost of wasting fuel and time in traffic. T-SPLOST supporters argue this is an indirect “tax” on commuters, and that the 1 percent sales tax will mitigate it.

Perhaps. But they don’t acknowledge the average household stands to pay more if the T-SPLOST passes.

Commuters aren’t the only people who would pay the sales tax, so let’s look at households. Based on Census data about commuters (see page 29) and household size in the 10-county region, the household “congestion tax” would be $986 a year. A study by the Atlanta Regional Commission found the projects funded by the tax would cut congestion by 24 percent at most. So, we can expect the household “congestion tax” to fall by no more than 24 percent, or $237.

Given state revenue estimates (see second table), each household’s share of the tax would start at $447.

Of course, visitors would pay some of the $447. But if residents foot even half the bill, the savings from the “congestion tax” is just a wash. If residents bear a larger share of the burden, the T-SPLOST plus the remaining “congestion tax” will cost more than what tax supporters say we pay now.

2. The T-SPLOST will get you home faster.

The very same data used for the “congestion tax” show congestion adds relatively little to the average commute: up to 10 minutes of the hour a typical commuter spends in the car every day. Sheer distance between home and work accounts for the rest of the time.

If congestion were to fall by 24 percent, then, the average commute would shrink by less than 2.5 minutes a day — only about a minute each way.

3. The T-SPLOST will be an economic boost.

You can’t spend $7.2 billion without improving the economy, right? It’s the same theory, writ small, President Barack Obama used to justify his 2009 “stimulus” package.

But taking money out of one part of the economy and putting it in another is an awfully inefficient path to economic growth — at best. And make no mistake: Money that goes to the T-SPLOST is money that won’t go to local businesses.

Worse, it doesn’t even fit the (questionable) idea of stimulating the economy by moving future consumption into the present. Projected timelines for the projects indicate that, in the first three years, the tax will collect $1.72 billion for regional projects — but spend just $812 million. The other half of the money will be pushed into the future. It’s unlikely the spending would catch up with the tax collections until 2018.

That might be a prudent way to plan infrastructure spending, but it looks like a half-decade drag on the economy.

4. There’s no “Plan B.”

As I’ve argued before, this claim ignores the possibility of voting again on a better project list in two years. In fact, the only thing that truly precludes another option is the T-SPLOST.

That’s because we will have used the biggest available revenue-raising tool. Even if the projects prove ineffective, our only option will be to renew the tax — or find another way to pay the tens of millions of dollars a year in operating costs for the transit projects this tax will create. If we OK this tax, we likely will be stuck with it, and without other options, for decades.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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368 comments Add your comment

How Inciteful Is That!

July 13th, 2012
6:30 pm

But Kyle!

1) If this is such a bad deal, why is the Governor backing it and how did it ever make its way to a vote?

2) This is a sales tax so it treats everyone equally. The more you consume, the more you pay.

But in all fairness, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I’m voting against it too. If our state elected officials are incapable of doing the job that they were elected to do, then why should we be called on to do it for them, other than vote them out and put more competent individuals in. If our elected officials deem this tax as necessary, they should implement it as law and just explain to their constituencies why it had to be done. Right?

Dave -

July 13th, 2012
7:02 pm

Inciteful: Because the Legislature and corrupt governor don’t have the (baseballs) to do it for fear they will be thrown out of their cush jobs under the gold dome! As for their perks, they are pure a-holes for demanding government workers not take over $25 while they take vacations to Europe, sports tickets, etc. But we the idiots keep voting them and the buffoons in Washington back in to ream us daily. VOTE THEM “OUT, AND VOTE NO TO THE TSPLOST! I already did!

finn mccool

July 13th, 2012
7:03 pm

I’ll read this sometime this weekend. Until then, Kyle, go have some wings and a beer, dude!

finn mccool

July 13th, 2012
7:04 pm

Oh, and, Bush did it and is STILL doing it!

That arse!

finn mccool

July 13th, 2012
7:06 pm

To all you cons who respond:
MAN: I don’t want to talk to you, no more, you empty-headed animal, food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. You mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

GALAHAD: Is there someone else up there we could talk to?

MAN: No. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
7:13 pm

As y’all know, I don’t live in the Atlanta region but I’m voting no, up here. This thing is a pig in a poke, if there’s ever been one.

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
7:14 pm

And also, if this was really a good idea, would they have to have such a big sales push?

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
7:18 pm

Hope it doesn’t push Kyle’s patience too much, but I gotta put up a song for my sweetie. IMO, he should reward us for a week of on-topic posts (for the most part). ;-)

At any rate, here’s Song With No Words, Tree With No Leaves by David Crosby:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzY2V3vrPYk

PlatinumBlack

July 13th, 2012
7:30 pm

finn — thanks for the MP. Never gets old. Why?

http://youtu.be/yHXw_jf_jH4

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

July 13th, 2012
7:41 pm

The way the polls look, maybe they should have saved the money spent promoting this fiasco, and donated it to the DOT. BTW, where did that money come from, if the State is so broke, they can’t fix pot holes?

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
7:43 pm

On topic:

I’ve been told that T-SPLOST will be voted on here in Columbus as well, that it’s not just an Atlanta tax.

Put me down for “No”. I don’t care if anyone says it will be temporary or not, it won’t be. Politicians love getting their hands on our tax money, and always for a “noble cause”. I say make due with what we have….

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
7:44 pm

Rafe

They can always find money for something they really want………….like ads for wanting more money.

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
7:44 pm

Off-topic. For my buddy JamVet, in case he makes his way over here tonight.

Frank Marino with Mahogany Rush, jamming his butt off:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OBA-rnjFUQ

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
7:47 pm

HD–Hope you have some musical gems in store. PB and I went to a local barbeque joint last Fri night, and enjoyed some hopping bluegrass. Got them to play “Orange Blossom Special”, but they hadn’t quite mastered “Russian Lullaby” yet. They said that they’ll work on it.

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
7:49 pm

Bruno

Yes, the state is divided into different regions, so we all vote on it, although Atlanta is getting all the press, especially on the AJC sites. There are 12 different regions across the state. In my region, and it looks that way other places, too, the only folks who appear to be for it are local politicians and the Chamber of Commerce.

In most of the non-Metro regions, a couple of big counties can vote it in for the whole region, if the vote falls right, which is one of the many reasons that I’[m opposed to it.

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
7:50 pm

Bruno

A hot tip for you, most all fiddle players hate playing “Orange Blossom Special”. lol

PlatinumBlack

July 13th, 2012
7:57 pm

most all fiddle players hate playing “Orange Blossom Special”. lol

Bruno felt that their rendition was only worth 50 cents per each of the four band members. I pitched in for their trouble, though…

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
8:01 pm

HD–I’m sure I put this one up at some point in the past, but give a listen to this one. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleoo by the Dead. I put the studio version up since all the live versions run 12 mins or so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64pU8w2F6MY

Not sure if you can call this bluegrass or not, but the talent is there.

Ray

July 13th, 2012
8:09 pm

Still voting no. They did not make their case. Appreciate the additional info, Kyle. Thanks.

G Mare

July 13th, 2012
8:12 pm

Enter your comments here

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
8:13 pm

Garcia/Grisman’s beautiful version of “Russian Lullaby”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp7LXL3qtFA

Still hoping that Kyle will tolerate some serenading. At the minimum, he’ll expand his musical repertoire.

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
8:14 pm

Hey, G-Mare!! I’m dedicating the song above to you ^^^^^^

Road Scholar

July 13th, 2012
8:15 pm

2. 2.5 min /day X 365= 912.5 min/60=15.2 hours /year or 2 work days saved.

3. $8 billion X 7 (the number of times this money will change hands)=$ 56 billion into the economy for jobs, jobs, jobs !

PS why not sell bonds secured with the tax revenue in year 1 to fast track projects’ construction? Low interest rates! That’s what Sonny did with Fast Forward. Now when can the projects be delivered to construction?

Oh, and how much of the tax will be paid by out of town visitors?

4. “..the possibility of voting again on a better project list in two years.” OK. just who is going to provide consensus on a new project list…in today’s world? Pave! Pave! Pave! Transit is the future, whether you like it or not!

I guess you can just sit in traffic and complain….is that Plan B?

I’m with you on keeping taxes as low as they can be, but to cut your nose off despite your face does not address the issue. Do we need to stop all transportation improvements in the rural suburbs? Do the roads need to start crumbling and the bridges need to fall in before something is done?
I would also like the gas tax to be increased, so, how does a hybrid or electric car owner pay their fair share?

G Mare

July 13th, 2012
8:19 pm

Bruno, good to know that you & PB are alive, well, & posting. Your names are mentioned, sorta, mostly, fondly at Jay’s. :)

Road Scholar

July 13th, 2012
8:19 pm

HD: “And also, if this was really a good idea, would they have to have such a big sales push?”

Education has never been this states’ strength , has it! Just how do you propose to educate the public about the tax/vote?

G Mare

July 13th, 2012
8:19 pm

VOTE NO! PLEASE!

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
8:23 pm

Bruno, good to know that you & PB are alive, well, & posting. Your names are mentioned, sorta, mostly, fondly at Jay’s.

Well, G-Mare, my theory is that if you don’t pick up a few detractors along the way, you’re just not trying hard enough!! ;-)

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
8:23 pm

Road Scholar

I think the public is smarter than you give them credit for. That’s why this thing isn’t looking good.

G Mare

July 13th, 2012
8:23 pm

Hey back, Bruno. Thanks for the song.

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
8:27 pm

Should I feel bad that Ricky Scaggs could play better at 7 years old than I can in my 50s??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhvDvMV4_FY

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
8:32 pm

I think the public is smarter than you give them credit for. That’s why this thing isn’t looking good.

In case you forgot, HD, high-falutin’ Libs like Road Scholar don’t respect the opinions of the unwashed masses. Just ain’t got no education, us dumb hicks……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjkpI6jfR6g

Steve Dunbar

July 13th, 2012
8:35 pm

We get it. Republicans are opposed to T-SPLOST. It is a tax and Republicans are opposed to all
taxes. You can’t be in favor of some and opposed to others. The faithful must stand firm against all taxes.

The question then becomes, what will Republicans do to address the transportation needs of a growing metropolitan area. And the answer is, they don’t want to do anything. Plain and simple.
Let’s have an out-dated, decaying infrastructure. That’s what Rebublicans want, that is what they will have..

PlatinumBlack

July 13th, 2012
8:43 pm

Burnin’ burnin’… must be the kim chee we had tonight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_66L4wdNXw

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
8:50 pm

Let’s have an out-dated, decaying infrastructure. That’s what Rebublicans want, that is what they will have..

Don’t tell me, Steve. You’re in favor of light rail, which no one will use……

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
8:51 pm

One of my favorite violin solos—found in the most unexpected song….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mB9Gqhcelo

Pizzaman

July 13th, 2012
8:52 pm

Ok Repub’s, what’s the story?

What the hell was that “bug” on Mitt’s flag lapel pin on the network news tonight?

Who made the uniforms for the Olympics Mitt ran?

How did Mitt get a Vietnam draft deferment meant for an “ordained” Minister.

Vote early, vote often!

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
8:56 pm

Bruno

Here’s you a fiddle tune. Supposedly the favorite fiddle tune of Thomas Jefferson. Couldn’t find a traditional version but this one isn’t bad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX1joQgf6Tg

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
9:02 pm

Here’s you a fiddle tune.

Didn’t know you had any Gypsy blood in you, HD. josef will be proud!!

BTW, you must know your History to know Jefferson’s favorite tune……

Stephenson Billings

July 13th, 2012
9:03 pm

Well, it’s either something like this or higher gas taxes in the future…. ijs…..

BlahBlahBlah

July 13th, 2012
9:04 pm

The idea that $8 billion creates $56 billion in economic activity is a fallacy that has repeatedly been debunked. The money multiplier theory is bunk.

Old Guy

July 13th, 2012
9:06 pm

In metro Atlanta, at least, the decision to break a promise by continuing the collection of tolls on GA 400 has done TSplost in. I see cited that decision more than anything else as a reason not to trust the “politicians” with more tax revenue. The few people who made that decision have long been forgotten, but the effect of it has doomed any effort at transportation improvement for decades.

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
9:06 pm

Bruno

If Josef was here, he might like this tune by one of his fellow Magnolia staters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTr_ZYkZMCs

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
9:07 pm

Here’s Bruce Hornsby’s tribute to Jerry Garcia at the RNR Hall of Fame:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJRLC7SgrN8

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
9:07 pm

Back to the topic

In my region, the T-SPLOST won’t account for 100% of the cost of the listed projects. Surprise, surprise, they’ll be back later wanting more money.

Stephenson Billings

July 13th, 2012
9:10 pm

Plus, I’d prefer something like this which allows each state to raise more of their own money for transportation/infrastructure projects and (hopefully/eventually) wean the state off the federal gov’t money. Most people are unaware that about 75%-80% of the money on an overwhelming majority of transportation construction projects in GA comes from the federal gov’t (everything from interstate projects to little bridges on county roads in the middle of nowhere).

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
9:16 pm

I’m all for weaning transportation projects away from the Feds but one person’s “middle of nowhere” is somebody’s backyard.

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
9:17 pm

But taking money out of one part of the economy and putting it in another is an awfully inefficient path to economic growth — at best. And make no mistake: Money that goes to the T-SPLOST is money that won’t go to local businesses.

One of these days I’ll figure out why Keynesian manipulation of the economy forms the backbone of liberal economic theory. In my view, government projects need to stand on their own merit, and be paid for with money that can be afforded. There’s nothing magical about government expenditures.

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
9:19 pm

HD–Are you sure you’re not from Muskogee?? ;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UZUJQ5i8gk

Bruno

July 13th, 2012
9:23 pm

My best friend, who is a major DeadHead, absolutely loves this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWqbazi67Uw&feature=related

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

July 13th, 2012
9:23 pm

Not another T Splotch.