A move to shift transportation tax votes to November 2012?

Over at Peach Pundit, Charlie Harper says that those involved in next year’s regional votes for a transportation sales tax have come to realize that voters in the July 31, 2012 primaries are likely to be throwing an anti-tax tea party:

The referendums are currently scheduled for July 2012, corresponding with the partisan primaries for the 2012 elections.

The current fear is that these contests, especially in the Atlanta region, will be dominated by Republicans who will be anti-tax, with Democrats likely to have few contested battles with which to drive presumably pro-referendum voters to the polls. A bill to move these referendums to November 2012, when President Obama will be on the ballot and driving Democratic turnout, is now viewed as a virtual certainty.

Adding legislation to the special session which would move the referendum is an attempt assist the likelihood of passage by changing the rules before the ground game has begun. This would avoiding the appearance of trying game the system during the 2012 regular session, when the campaign to pass the referendums will be in full swing and presumably, average voters have begun to pay attention to such things.

We’ve made a few calls to see if anyone is willing to go on the record on this. As far as something offered during next month’s special session, Gov. Nathan Deal said this morning that he anticipated nothing but redistricting will be considered.

But here’s the bottom line: Aside from the presidential contest, 2012 will be a desert in Georgia politics. No U.S. Senate seat is at stake. No statewide offices are in play – with the exception of two seats on the state Public Service Commission.

Next July 31, the hottest race will be the free-for-all Republican congressional contest for the new 14th District. Martha Zoller, Doug Collins, and a host of others will be directing their messages at the most conservative activists within the state GOP.

And depending on how the new district’s lines are drawn, their efforts could have a tremendous impact on the transportation vote in metro Atlanta.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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76 comments Add your comment

Sally Smith

July 7th, 2011
4:21 pm

Jim, don’t count on those new maps being in effect next year – the approval by the Justice Department and/or appeals via the Courts may take longer than some expect.

Gabriel Sterling

July 7th, 2011
4:24 pm

The maps WILL be in effect. It would be unconstitutional for them not to be. They may go to court before they are in effect, however there is no way they can not be in effect by qualifying for the Primary.

Just Wait

July 7th, 2011
4:34 pm

They can have the TSPLOSH any time they like. It will fail. Does anybody really want to be taxed for a road project in another county? And I really don’t think the politicians will be able to shame us into this vote like they are trying to now.

DJ Sniper

July 7th, 2011
4:48 pm

The lack of vision here in Georgia is mind boggling. This state’s resistance to embracing public transportation in the past will cause us to fall further and further behind.

yuzeyurbrane

July 7th, 2011
4:50 pm

I skimmed a list of some of the projects proposed in my area and must admit that there were many that did not seem worth a tax increase to me and a few I knew were special interest lobbied.

Centrist

July 7th, 2011
5:11 pm

But Counties purposely schedule SPLOST votes in July when few voters go to the polls, but government employees, legal offices, and groups scheduled to gain from the tax are organized and given time off to vote. Such voter manipulation is now a given for bigger government votes.

Carl

July 8th, 2011
6:46 am

We should be thinking of diverting money for tranportation, not knee jerking a tax increase, no matter how worthy a goal. It is the consummate politician response to a problem, and there are many of us who will oppose any tax increase, period! Even with the government gaming the system to ensure the vote.

DagnyT

July 8th, 2011
6:49 am

Moving to November would be gaming the system, but I’ll vote in both elections and based on the proposals I’ve seen, my vote is NO. We should all be living within our means.

To DagnyT

July 8th, 2011
6:59 am

I’m a government worker and we need more government. That is how I grow my organization and my pay. If you do not give me what I want I will strike and close down the city and state.

Alex

July 8th, 2011
7:02 am

Two comments here:
First: Charlie Harper needs grammar lessons before he can be taken seriously. “is an attempt assist the likelihood.” He needs a to between attempt and assist. This was just one example.
Second: I will not give the government the authority to institute another tax until they keep their promise to remove the Georgia 400 tolls. The politicians made a promise to remove the tolls this summer. They, now claim that the toll is going to fund the upgrade to the Georgia 400/ I-85 interchange. Except, the numbers for the project have come back and there is enough money left over from the toll to fund that entire project now, and that includes the cost to dismantle the toll plaza.

Just A Grunt

July 8th, 2011
7:23 am

Repeat after me. The tolls on Ga 400 are just temporary. The tolls on Ga 400 are just temporary. These are not the droids you are looking for.

santoka

July 8th, 2011
7:25 am

If we need the transportation build out as told, then it must be worth something to riders, thus it must be a profitable business for a private entity to undertake – I rode private railways in Japan for years, they were 100 times better than Marta – more expensive? Heck yes! But efficient, SAFE, clean and convenient. They were crowded (even outside the main cities) so obviously they were worth the additional cost to provide the company owners a profit. No more taxes, thanks I think I have had enough.

Don

July 8th, 2011
7:33 am

Why would anybody in their right wind vote to prop up Marta with this new tax, thats what it all about.
Its not really about new roads, its all about the citizens in the surrounding counties paying for Marta in Dekalb/Fulton. From what Ive seen .30 from every $1.00 goes strait to Marta, how stupid are you people?

Bobby

July 8th, 2011
7:33 am

I’m a Democrat who will not vote for a transportation tax regardless of when they wish to vote on it. Why? The tax will never go away. Look at the toll on Georgia 400. We were assured during a Democratic Georgia legislature the tolls would expire when Georgia 400 was paid for. Along comes a Republican legislature and Governor and they renig on that promise. Thus, the DOT, the Democrats nor the Republicans can be trusted with public monies. Once we give it to them it becomes permanent regardless of what the politicians say. So, I’m just saying NO!

Laurie

July 8th, 2011
7:44 am

Doesn’t matter when they put the referendum on the ballot, I’m still voting NO. I need to see some REAL reform at GDOT and better stewardship of the money they already have before I vote to give them more.

DunwoodyDad

July 8th, 2011
7:47 am

They should be cutting taxes, not raising them. And they should be shutting down roads and MARTA, not building them up. They should tell those businesses from out of state that we don’t need no stinkin’ employers coming in here and hiring people.

Always Skeptical

July 8th, 2011
7:52 am

The toll on 400 is a proper and necessary user fee for folks jamming up the interstates. I appreciate that the money is being used for further needed road projects for the area. It’s a portion of it going to fix the interchange around Sidney Marcus Blvd? If you want to save 50 cents each way…DON’T USE IT!! Go around it and take 85, 75 or P’Tree Dunwoody. You can also avoid the toll if you take the train….

Amazed!

July 8th, 2011
7:54 am

I’m amazed, but not surprised, by the myopic comments here. I will happily vote for the transportation referendum–whenever it is on the ballot–because I understand that you have to PAY FOR the services that you and your fellow citizens would like (and in the case of Atlantans, I would say expect) to use.

People here complain about taxes with neither an appreciation of what it takes to develop and maintain infrastructure and services nor with an understanding of how low taxes are in the U.S. compared to nearly every other modern, industrialized nation.

Trip

July 8th, 2011
7:56 am

Why would the citizens of DeKalb and Fulton add another 1% to sales tax for transport when we already pay that for marta. I will be voting NO whenever the vote takes place.

Mark

July 8th, 2011
7:59 am

I agree with Bobby, Just a Grunt and Alex. I won’t forget the broken promises. I won’t forget the property purchased for the Marta maintenance facility with Ga 400 toll funds. I won’t forget the mess DOT is in because they can’t manage our tax dollars. I can’t forget that MARTA is poorly managed and has made no progress in decades despite the many fare increases. I won’t forget that SPLOST taxes don’t go away. I won’t forget the DOT is using lanes all of us tax payers paid for to turn into “pay if you wish to get out of the additional traffic we have created” lanes. I can’t forget, because I see them daily, the underutilized HOV lanes, entrances and exits downtown. I will never vote for another tax or toll to fund this incompetence.

santoka

July 8th, 2011
8:00 am

Oh yeah, hope you all in Gwinnett enjoy riding the $100 million dollar “study” for a railway, since that is your payoff in this deal.

TruthBe

July 8th, 2011
8:13 am

No more new taxes period for any reason. The transportation tax is not needed. The folks with the transportation department can’t be trusted at all because look at GA 400 toll road they lied and broke a written legal contract with the taxpayers. People wake up and tell them to live and act within their bugets for once. And why does it cost Gwinnett County a 100 million dollars to do a study about a railway system? Where’s the investigating reporting from the AJC? Government corruption that’s the problem. When is enough enough people, do you work hard just to turn your pay over to a bunch of criminals in government? How many new SUV’s can Dirty Reed drive at once? No new taxes.

Arnie

July 8th, 2011
8:23 am

I live in Atlanta and our sales taxes are high enough already. This is the wrong time to be approaching the voters about an increase in sales tax. I think it will lose no matter what election they stick it in.

FinanceBuzz

July 8th, 2011
8:27 am

I would be inclined to consider supporting a TSPLOST and I am as anti-tax as you will find. Granted, that would depend on how much of that money would go to a transportation highway infrastructure, a legitimate function of government, versus public transit. Atlanta is woefully behind on our highway infrastructure. I just returned from Dallas and they have freeways running all over the Metroplex and they are building more! Atlanta managed to kill the Outer Perimeter and has almost no freeways crossing a sprawling metro area. Some of this is NIMBY activism but much of is mismanagement by our elected officials. So, if these funds were pledged to proper highway development use, I would be willing to considering voting for the sales tax increase.

That being said, what I see here is political manipulation with a goal toward greater taxation. By Republicans. The GOP controls the legislature and the governor’s mansion. If there is legislation to change the date of the referendum to favor passage, given the GOP control, that implies GOP support of more taxation. As I noted, that tax MAY be justified depending on where it is going, but the sliminess of this move is what I would expect from Democrats and it illustrates what is wrong with the Republican Party in general. No matter how justified, if our officials try to game the system by catering to big government Democrat voters, I would be inclined to vote “no” on a TSPLOST just to send them the message that such tactics are not ok. Furthermore, any elected official who supports such moving the referendum should be looked at very carefully on the primary day that they know will be heavy GOP. If that is how they play it under the Gold Dome, then perhaps they are the ones who should be defeated on primary day.

Common Sense

July 8th, 2011
8:29 am

There is a point that people are missing here which is that the tax revenues currently serving the transportation government entities (gas tax, ad valorem tax, tolls) have not risen with inflation. Add to that the increasing fuel efficiency that results in people creating more wear and tear on roadways for less tax money per mile traveled. Does this make sense? People in general are paying less dollars per mile in taxes at a time when constructions costs etc. are continually rising. It’s a taxing model that is obsolete and needs to be updated to meet current and future trends. People see this as an unnecessary tax increase but fail to realize if we don’t update the tax model, not only will we not see any new projects but the ability to maintain what we already have will degrade even further than where it already is!

JohnnyReb

July 8th, 2011
8:33 am

Redistricting – live with it Dems, you lost the mid-terms. Believe it or not, everything can’t be about you.

Several posters are right on – tell me, who thought up the bright idea to tax people in one county to pay for things in another? Reading the projects is like reading a development plan for North Atlanta. Everything can’t be about Atlanta.

Public transit brings crime and destruction of neighborhoods. You can call that racist to make yourself feel better, but history shows it.

Lastly, local governments p….ssed away millions in stimulus dollars on such stupid things as changing out perfectly good stop lights, putting up cross walk lights that count down the seconds until the next change, etc. etc. And, they want us to vote for a tax where they can make more of those same brilliant decisions. Not me.

Arnie

July 8th, 2011
8:34 am

As I stated above, I live in Atlanta and I will be voting NO.

However, I am a strong supporter of MARTA. It’s good for the entire region.

It’s just time that Marta did something for me, instead of me doing something for them. So when Marta shows me that it can cut administrative overhead and unlimited salary growth, then I will consider supporting them with my vote.

The days of government as a guaranteed jobs program is a thing of the past.

Matt

July 8th, 2011
8:34 am

In the 1950s the US invested heavily in infrastructure and the economy and society of America grew exponentially. Taking the time to put money to work to improve sewers, transportation, highway system and commerce the American dream was founded on heavy spending on the ways and means in which goods and services are transported around this country. Today that infrastructure is crumbling and many on this page and others want to fiddle while Rome burns. You get what you all deserve when companies leave for places that care about their infrastructure.

ed

July 8th, 2011
8:36 am

One DeKalb official bemoans the lack of sidewalks along 250 miles of county streets. The transportation bill would provide funds for building niles and miles of sidewalks at more than $1,000,000 a mile. Take a look at the existing sidewalks covered with weeds and dirt. Mostly impassable. Yes, that’s what we need more expensive, neglected sidewalks to parallel the existing neglected sidewalks. Government bureacrats. Tax and spend.

Matt

July 8th, 2011
8:40 am

marta is the largest transportation in the entire country that does not receive any state funding. It is amazing they even still exist considering the poor funding it receives in this forward looking backwards acting state. For every two steps forward some people in this state want to move 3 steps back to mississippi.

Tychus Findlay

July 8th, 2011
8:40 am

The fact is that the State government cannot be trusted to spend the money collected from additional tax revenue for the projects that it has earmarked. The 400 toll was just too lucrative to give up. The Social Security funds were misappropriated to fund projects other than seniors’ retirement.

If the State wants to fund MARTA, it needs to reallocate its existing allowance just as I the taxpayer must with my paycheck when I want to buy something new.

YeahRight

July 8th, 2011
8:42 am

As long as most people have the “What’s in int for me?” attitude, along with total ignorance on the true amount of public services they really use, we’ll have a problem getting anything done on a regional basis.

Matt

July 8th, 2011
8:47 am

I think we should lower the state income tax to 0% and increase the sales tax to 9% state wide and tax food at 6%.

But a lot of that money needs to go to infrastructure. We spend 17-18 billion a year in state government. Over the next 10 years our transportation needs are around 120 billion. We either fix the problems ahead of us or watch the state crumble.

Too many people here just don’t care. They enjoyed the benefits their parents (the greatest generation) gave us when they built so much and spent so much money in the 40s 50s and 60s for infrastructure and growth. Now my parents generation don’t want to give that kind of sacrifice. They just want to have their own piece.

I am glad the greatest generation did what they did. I am sad to see my parents generation destroy all of it.

Now my generation will be left with the ruins of a burnt country and a burnt state.

Arnie

July 8th, 2011
8:48 am

When is MARTA going to get a grip on it’s administrative overhead and salary costs?

If one person gets a job down there, before you know it they hire their cousin, brother, sister and their aunts and uncles.

No way. Show me you can cut administrative and salary costs, and then I might be willing to talk about more funding for MARTA.

Cameron

July 8th, 2011
8:51 am

There’s no way in hell any of this is happening. We need the investment infastructure, but the mob mentality has spoken.

Angus

July 8th, 2011
8:56 am

Why the SOG isn’t feverishly reworking the legislation is mind-boggling and shameful.

Charlie summed it up nicely,

“State leaders need to recognize that the 2010 transportation initiative was a way for an exiting governor and timid legislature to kick the problem down an unfunded road. Georgia has a new Governor and Atlanta has a new mayor. While it would require significant political capital, the two should consider an entire re-work of the current plan. The risk of failure of the current initiative is great. The cost of failure and continued delay is even greater.”

A Conservative Voice

July 8th, 2011
8:58 am

No way, Jose…..I see our tax money being wasted every day and to come up now and ask for more is the height of absurdity. I, along with just about everybody I know will be voting “NO” on any, I say ANY tax increase. This referendum is doomed…….there’s no way it’ll pass, ANYWHERE.

Joel

July 8th, 2011
8:58 am

I’m a democrat who will vote NO for this whether it’s in July or November. The people who run this states transportation have failed us over and over again with such shortsighted and haphazard ideas such as in ramp red lights and the 85 first class lane. I will not give them any more ideas for such idiocy.

Arnie

July 8th, 2011
9:01 am

Cameron, I don’t think it’s a mob mentality.

If you want something from the voters, then show the voters you can manage the money well. It’s that simple.

Money is tight now, and no one wants to throw money down the drain for mismanged programs.

It’s a two way street.

john

July 8th, 2011
9:06 am

There is not a way in hell that I will go along with this until they abolish the tolls no GA 400 and the entire SRTA. Why would any vote for a tax for transportation when they won’t keep their previous promise? What’s to stop them from making it a permanant tax? Why should we pay excessive salaries to state employees for unneeded positions?

Brenda

July 8th, 2011
9:12 am

It looks like they have gutted all of the rail stuff anyway. I live intown and work 2 miles from my house. My commute takes 5 minutes. I’m not going to pay for Suburban Betty’s 8 lane road to her foreclosed John Weiland home development. Let her rot and sit in traffic with the kids…she chose that life.

Mark

July 8th, 2011
9:17 am

Unclear that the Atlanta SPLOST for sewers will actually end since the city is still asking the feds for delays, and Reed has said he wants the schools to drop their sales tax request, but that’s unlikely to happen. This transportation sales tax was really doomed when it was proposed. It should all be funded by raising the motor vehicle fuel tax, since Georgia’s is relatively low. We need to force ourselves to either drive less or use public transportation, and with the CAFE requirements for gas mileage going to 35 mpg already, then proposed to go to 62 mpg, motor vehicle fuel tax revenues will start to declline as cars are replaced and the government will have no choice but to raise the fuel taxes anyway.

curzen

July 8th, 2011
9:27 am

As a liberal in Atlanta, with many projects and thus money destined to go outside the city into deeply republican areas, I sure hope this fails.

bug

July 8th, 2011
9:37 am

Why are you not telling the full story? Twenty five percent of this tax is going to the counties not transportation.

If you were out of a job, lost your home, savings self worth would you vote for any kind of tax? If so you have a very low I Q.

We need less government in the cities, counties, states and Washington DC.

Angus

July 8th, 2011
9:38 am

Parochialism (along with a few other -isms) created this mess. It’s not going to get us out of it.

Matt

July 8th, 2011
9:41 am

I cant believe both sides of the aisle are so short sighted. Infrastructure is needed in all sections of the metro area regardless of your political leaning. There will be and always has been mismanagement of money (we are human get over it). The point is to get the work done.
A park was just built in Old Fourth ward for 15 million less than what it could have cost. No one cares that a project came in 15 million less and does a service for an area of the city that brought no money to the city and now has an opportunity to provide sales tax revenue and future growth where before there was no opportunity.

Whether the project is in cobb or gwinnett or dekalb or fulton the project will be needed.

If we do nothing the infrastructure will continue to crumble and continue to rot away at our opportunity to grow in the metro area.

Charlotte will be the new city of the south in 30 years if we continue to do nothing. Sad state of affairs when political leaning is more important than the place we live, work and play.

Derek

July 8th, 2011
9:44 am

Mass transportation does not work other than in cities where most of the population live and work. Regardless of what the city of Atlanta tries to portray, it is a “small” city for the number of “in-town” residents. Most of the metro area workers live outside the 285 belt, an continue to move further out every year to avoid the crime and failing schools. Even Clayton County, with its demographics, could not make buses a viable solution. Low riderships and inadequate locations, too low a fare model and old inefficient fluid leaking buses on restricted access roads blocking traffic and sitting for extended amounts of time. Suburban homeowners will continue to drive, until fast, modern , clean and safe transportation is available, it will not be viable…..and a total waste of taxes. As a state, county and cities, have maxed out our taxes, from sales, property, splosts to income taxes! Georgia taxes everything, new business wanting to move to GA are not going to move here because of mass transportation, they are going to move here because its CHEAPER to do business and that there will be a SKILLED worker pool, that means lower taxes and better education. Don’t tell me that the schools need MORE money, lots of other states have much better schools and get HALF the money per student than GA. (ie; MO). We need to cut programs that are failing and reduce costs, lots of other states don’t have income taxes, some don’t have sales taxes or splosts and yet still manage to budget everything, something to think about!

Matt

July 8th, 2011
9:52 am

We need less government in cities, state and DC?

But in transportation and infrastructure do we need less government? honestly?
In the 1960s private companies thought the internet was not commercially viable and a waste of money. The govenrment funded it and essentially created the entire backbone spending billions upon billions of dollars. now the internet produces trillions of GDP in this country and is a method of commerce rivaled only by highways and shipping lines.

Highways produced a means of tranporting good faster and quicker along state lines.

Infrastructure is a key piece for an economy to grow. We have ignored it for 25 years. And now we have a group that want to continue to ignore it in the name of hating the government.

I dont equivocate government funded infrastructure with an expansive government. I consider it a constitutional mandate to protect and defend the economy of this country which in turn defends the safety and security of its people.

If we choose to continue to ignore improving and facilitating multiple modes of infrastrcuture and transportation we might as well just pack up shop and give up. If we care nothing about this country to build its roads and transit as our grandparents did after world war II then we might as well pull the trigger on all of it.

Pass The Puck

July 8th, 2011
9:55 am

I’ve never seen such selfishness until I came to live in ATL. Think about the region as a whole, not just about yourselves. You have to start somewhere. Metropolitan Atlanta needs more and better transit options – that is a fact you cannot deny.

Keep on with your selfish and divisive attitudes and eventually business will not want to come here anymore because you blew the chance to fix your problem. Charlotte will overtake you and you’ll be scratching your heads – but it’ll be too late.

Matt

July 8th, 2011
9:58 am

@Derek

Most mass transit is state funded or funded as an entire region. Instead we decided to have cobb, clayton, gwinnett fulton/dekalb fund them on their own instead of sharing the responsibility as every other mass transit system in the country and world do.

We are operating systems so backwards it is laughable. Mass transit will always lose money, as will highways, roads or any mode of transit for that matter.

But the opportunity and economic growth PRODUCED by multiple modes of transit, roads, better infrastructure and rail pay for itself by moving people, commerce and GDP in the respective countries that do so.

Not in direct terms but in indirect growth. My generation is going to live inside the perimeter. We dont want to live and commute an hour and a half. We want to live in the city and we will do so.

It is sad I will have to wait 25 years till our generation is in control and will have to spend twice as much as we would have to now to do what needs to be done.

Baby boomers learned nothing from their parents who sacrificed and made this country great. The greatest generation indeed.