If you want to know how nervous Republicans are about this transportation sales tax, look no further than a headline posted today by Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Which you can’t see anymore.
Here’s the thing. On Friday, reporters caught U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss outside the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to talk to him about a number of things, including the July 31 vote on the sales tax. Here’s precisely what Chambliss said, via WABE (90.1FM):
”TSPLOST has obviously gotten to be a very controversial issue, but here’s the bigger issue than this TSPLOST vote: We just passed a highway bill two weeks ago. The president signed it last week. In that highway bill, we did not change the funding mechanism on how roads and bridges and infrastructure in this country are built and maintained.
“We don’t have the money in the highway trust fund now to build new roads. We don’t have the money in the highway trust fund to build rail lines that will take some of the pressure off the transportation issues that we have in this country. We’ve got to develop a different way of funding those projects. And until we do that, the mechanism that we have in place is it. It’s the only mechanism.
“So when folks go to the polls to decide whether or not they want to vote for TSPLOST, if they don’t have a better idea of how we’re going to fund the infrastructure and the transportation needs for Georgia, then this is the best route to go right now. Now that’s the general picture. I am looking at it from a Georgian standpoint. This is not a federal issue, this is a Georgia issue.
”I’m a Georgian. I’m going to vote for the TSPLOST in my section of the state, because the projects that are going to be funded by the TSPLOST in southwest Georgia are going to improve the economy of southwest Georgia and going to improve the ability of people in southwest Georgia to attract companies to locate there, to improve the overall ability of individual manufacturers to get their jobs to market.
“That’s what this is all about in my mind, but there is a bigger picture of how, long term, we’re going to fund highway projects.”
Now, perhaps it was the mention of commuter rail, which appears nowhere in the southwest Georgia project list. But the interview by Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) was passed to radio colleague Charles Edwards, who wrote the piece picked up by GPB. There, a headline was added declaring that Chambliss had endorsed the TSPLOST. In toto was implied. This morning, Chambliss’ press operation put out the following:
“The Georgia Public Broadcasting story regarding my stance on TSPLOST contained an erroneous headline that has since been corrected.
“I have consistently stated that I support the T-SPLOST approach, which lets the people of Georgia decide if the proposal is in the best interest of their community and region based on the estimated cost and project list.
“I personally plan to vote in favor of the TSPLOST in my hometown of Moultrie because I believe it will create jobs for southwest Georgia and make a very rural part of the state more attractive for economic development.
“I think Georgians should make up their own minds and vote their conscience on the T-SPLOST referendum on July 31, based on the facts for their region. That is why I have not and will not endorse T-SPLOST.”
Metro Atlanta, you’re on your own.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider