Sales tax proposed for transportation.

A twist on an earlier proposal has the entire State voting on a 1% Sales Tax to fund transportation projects:

To fund the ambitious array of projects across the state, voters would be asked to pass a dedicated one-cent statewide sales tax for 10 years. The tax is expected to yield about $22.2 billion over 10 years.

The final package to submit to voters is up to the Legislature.

The initial plan was to be introduced by Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain), chairman of the House Transportation Committee. The plan also assumes there would be revenue from the successful parts of the metro Atlanta toll network to fund other projects. Some of the projects, like the east-west connector and the Ga. 400 tunnel would probably require private investment.

And after 10 years of this tax, who wants to bet it won’t go away?

7 comments

  1. David says:

    Of course it won’t go. Buzz. Just like the toll on GA 400. That piece of road has been paid for years ago with the tolls and it isn’t gone.

  2. Demonbeck says:

    Why are we so pigeon-holed on rail as an alternative to roads?

    It doesn’t take Al Gore to figure out that a few carpool parking lots along the Interstates with free shuttle service to and from the nearest MARTA station would cost a heck of a lot less than building twenty lane highways around the ATL. Give tax incentives to companies that implement carpool programs for their employees.

    Provide incentives to people for taking MARTA instead of driving to work – the state could give away $20 monthly MARTA passes to people willing to give up driving to work. Think of the cost savings on road maintenance this would provide alone.

  3. Icarus says:

    I took a look through the AJC’s blog about this last night. Seemed to be evenly divided between “no new taxes, period” and “why won’t we use this money for railroads to everywhere instead of building roads for evil developers”.

    A few in the middle ground acknowledge that we’ve got a real transportation problem, and any solution is going to be expensive.

    The leadership, however, is in a real bind, as no-one wants to propose the largest tax increase in the State’s history. Even the current list of projects, when finished, will be $7 Billion underfunded, and congestion during that time will be worse, not better.

    So what to do?

    Sales tax? Will never be approved by referendum. South Georgia folks won’t like the money for Marta and the Trolley, Atlanta folks will gripe about paving dirt roads to no-where, and the suburban NIMBY folks won’t like the “it’s not the northern ARC” any more than they liked the northern ARC.

    If it were funded by motor fuel taxes, I’m guessing the amount needed to generate the same amount of revenue would be about $.20 per gallon, based on a few google searches and 2004 data. I don’t think the legislature is allowed a referendum cop-out on this, so they would actually have to propose a tax hike. Not likely, either.

    So, two questions:

    Anyone got any better ideas?, and

    Did anyone actually decide we “need” $22 Billion in projects over the next 10 years, or did we figure out what a 1% sales tax would generate in that time, and then come up with a tentative project list that will cost that much?

  4. Nicki says:

    I’m in the “not for roads’ camp, myself. We need more transit.

    Why rail, rather than other stuff? Rail offers flexibility that carpooling doesn’t. It also will reach out to the ‘burbs, which with our average (very long) commute is necessary to cutting down on congestion, etc. And the more complicated transit is, the less likely people are to take it. You’d have to pay me a lot of money, for example, to drive into town, drop off my car, catch a shuttle to MARTA, and then take MARTA (and maybe a bus) to my ultimate destination instead of just taking my car.

    I like incentives. But I think regional rail and additional investment into MARTA (build that Gwinnett line, stat!) is going to be essential to our long-term health.

  5. Demonbeck says:

    Regional rail is just a more expensive option for something that is just going to fail. At least if you build carpool lots and raise incentives for carpoolers, you’re improving the situation quickly and cheaply.

    Rail will take years to build and will be too expensive – especially when it proves to be ineffective.

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