Speaker reverses self on Cobb Commission Chair’s reversal

After Cobb County Commission Chair Tim Lee stated that he wanted to change Cobb County’s prospective TSPLOST funded project from transit to roads, specifically managed toll lanes on I-75/575, Speaker Ralston’s initial reaction was reported to be that he didn’t favor reopening the TSPLOST legislation to allow the change.

That’s an understandable first reaction because opening up the TSPLOST legislation could wreak all kinds of havoc as other jurisdictions attempt to modify their funding choices.

But Chairman Lee made the case that pulling state funding from the planned 75/575 “improvements” constituted a material change of conditions upon which the County’s priorities were predicated. Apparently that was a persuasive argument as the Speaker has now stated that the change in state funding in Cobb County may be sufficient to warrant reexamination of his earlier position.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers and Senator Lindsey Tippins, who both represent parts of Cobb and Cherokee County affected by 75/575 joined Lee in his press conference and appear supportive of the change.

“(Deal) is absolutely committed to that, and whether it’s in this or not, he wants that to happen, and we want that to happen, and everybody that sits through traffic everyday coming down through 75 and 575 wants that to happen,” Rogers said.

As for who would carry the legislation and what the next step will be, Rogers said, “We’ll get to the next step when we have an opportunity for the four of us and others in the Cobb Delegation to sit down and talk about where we go from here.”

Tippins said he is interested in pursuing the change because removing the private partner from the toll lane project allows the state to bundle it with the TIA projects and complete it for less money.

“That’s reason enough in itself for me to take a look at it,” Tippins said.


    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Don’t give up Max. Hang-in-there and keep fighting the good fight as every great city has seemingly gone through a period of growing pains at one time or another.

      Atlanta is going through a painful period of readjustment from being a boomtown where houses are just built to being a major population center where substantial investments have to be made in education, water and transportation infrastructure to remain existent and economically viable.

  1. Dave Bearse says:

    It’s a legitimate complaint, premium bus service from Acworth-Kennesaw-Town Center to Midtown requires higher freeway speeds than currently available. The planned I-75 managed lanes may well have been an element in the development of the proposal—it’s so fuzzy and the public information lacking that almost no one knows any details about the bus service, if indeed there are any details beyond the back of the napkin calculations and notes.

    Shifting $695M that would be used for Cobb bus service to roads reduces the metro Atlanta T-SPLOST transit component to 40% of total T-SPLOST (<$28B of $7.2B total, factoring in the 15% T-SPLOST funds given to localities for use as they see fit, and the latter being almost wholly used for roads).

    T-SPLOST approvals statewide would raise $16B. Metro Atlanta's $2.8B on transit, plus say a couple hundred million on transit in other regions (probably a overstatement) means that less than one-fifth of a general statewide sales tax would be used for transit.

    It's poor policy to fund roads with a general sale tax, when motor fuel taxes much better allocate the cost of roads to beneficiaries. It simply another among the flaws of this GOP signature legislation.

    The state and its regions would be much better served if a 0.4% general sales tax were levied in metro Atlanta and dedicated to transit, and the motor fuel tax increased statewide, and the additional motor fuel taxes returned to regions / localities where it originated and was for roads.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I could only imagine the outcry from OTP conservatives and Tea Partiers if the state even mulled the idea of levying a 0.4% general sales tax to go straight to building evil transit.

      Heck, people are already up in arms over the concept of paying more in taxes to make critically-needed road improvements as it is.

      But I do see your point. The state could have likely done a MUCH better job at attempting to raise funds for both roads and transit separately by making the T-SPLOST a referendum to both raise the state’s meager gas tax to help make the critically-needed (and long-neglected) road improvements in the Atlanta Region while also asking voters if they would like to raise general sales taxes to fund the critically-needed (and also long-neglected) transit improvements that are so crucial to keeping the Atlanta Region.

      If the state was going to ask the voters to approve of what was needed then they might as well should have asked the voters for much more of what is really needed on both the roads and transit side.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        It will be easy to attack the Chamber’s lobbying campaign as the Chamber lobbying for transporation taxation favorable to business interests. Business has seen that lobbying is one of the most effective investments, and its “job-creating” for lobbyists too.

        How is highway transportation funded now? Local property taxes (of which I’ll grant business generally pays a little more than its fair share), and motor fuel taxes that fall well short of taxing motor freight for its proper share of highway costs.

        How is T-SPLOST being funded? A general sales tax that won’t much tax business at all.
        Like SB31, it demonstrates that it doesn’t matter to business if legislation is good tax policy or not, so long as business reaps benefits.

  2. Scott65 says:

    so now they are going to have to open the damn thing back up…
    I’m hoping this doesn’t happen…it would be crazy. Wonder how much money the road builders had to cough up for this

  3. Rambler1414 says:

    My favorite part of this entire mess,

    is that the same Legislators who for YEARS have failed to address the congestion problems that Metro Atlanta is facing,
    and the same Legislators who approved HB 277/SB 200 in the first place giving the power to the Locals to draft a project list,

    are now the same Legislators who are going to try to change the Project List because it doesn’t address congestion problems.

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