Wingfield On T-SPLOST & Plan B

As Jim Galloway notes in this morning’s Jolt, there was little discussion of T-SPLOST at the GOP convention this weekend.  Kyle Wingfield has a good piece from Friday that’s worth a full read.  An excerpt:

For argument’s sake, let’s say voters in the three regions comprising Augusta, Columbus and Savannah approve the tax. Those regions represent a quarter of Georgia’s 159 counties and one-sixth of the state’s population.

What alternative could then be taken at the state level? For example, it would be seemingly impossible for the state to raise the motor fuel tax only in counties that rejected the T-SPLOST. It’d also be exceedingly unpopular in those counties, and probably counterproductive: Counties slapped with a higher gas tax would likely bleed some fuel sales, and thus revenues, to unaffected counties.

Counties that approved the tax would not watch idly if the state tried to raise another tax on everyone, just to take care of Atlanta. And they almost certainly would raise heck to make sure regions that rejected the tax were assessed the penalties in the law. Among the poison pills for a “no” vote: requiring locals to match 30 percent of state transportation spending rather than 10 percent.

Those penalties also would seem to prevent the state from simply devoting more funds to transportation in metro Atlanta. Complain all you want that the Legislature tries to control MARTA without contributing to its budget, but there are even longer odds of that changing if the T-SPLOST fails.

T-SPLOST’s exists entirely to get more transportation dollars to Atlanta from Atlanta.  Through the intrepid law of unintended consequences, it’s starting to look like it may have exactly the opposite result.