Strange Doings With T-SPLOST…

The folks running Citizens for Transportation Mobility and Untie Atlanta find themselves exactly where some people told them they would find themselves -if you believe the results of a poll by WSB-TV/Rosetta Stone Communications. And since the poll was featured on WSB-TV, it must be true.

It shows that in the 10-County metropolitan Atlanta area 41% of voters support the T-SPLOST, 45% oppose it and 13% are undecided. What’s remarkable is that when the pollsters grouped the counties into “urban” counties and “suburban” counties, the “urban” folks supported it 52% for/33% against, and the “suburban” folks opposed by pretty much exactly that same margin – 54% against/33% for.

But we all know that “urban” is a code word. People say “urban” when they mean “Fulton and DeKalb Counties.” So in counties that have been paying an extra 1% sales tax for MARTA for three decades, another extra 1% sales tax for regular old transportation seems like a good idea. In the Desperate Housewives areas, though, any extra 1% for regular old transportation appears to be not such a good idea.

The mirror image divide seems to break exactly the same way along racial and political lines as well. See the full crosstabs for yourself here or here. In other words, “Voters who are likely to vote YES will largely be Democrats, Independents, Blacks, Latino, and liberal Whites.” That’s not from the recent WSB-TV/Rosetta Stone poll. That’s a conclusion from 20/20 Insight, from their poll conducted almost a year ago.

It looks like if the CTM folks can turn out those “urban” voters, this thing will pass in a squeaker. Just like the trauma care vote did in the 10-county metro region. But feel free to make your own predictions in the comments.

68 comments

  1. We haven’t polled it in a while but the trend appears to be moving in the right direction, with the yes folks up and the no folks down by about equal margins. I have noticed a consensus starting to form among my peer group which basically boils down to we need to do this because it’s the best chance we’ve got to do something.

    The 10 county region voted nearly 60% for Obama and consistently in the high 50’s for Democratic candidates in other races. I have always counseled through myself and others that to win this thing you need to get the majority Democrats and leaners (even if they vote in a Republican primary) to support it. That seems to slowly be happening.

    I realize a lot of the money folks behind this are Republicans and naturally they want their fellow like minded voters to support it because it’s important to them, but they’ll never get the Debbie’s of the world no matter how much money they throw at it, but they do need all the Chris’s of the world, and I think as the primary date draws closer we’ll see more spending and arguments aimed at the left and middle and less at the right.

    • USA1 says:

      Last year’s AJC poll showed 51% support. Now this poll shows only 41% support. Yup, Chris, things sure are moving in the right direction, for me at least.

      I’m curious as to which “peer group” you are referring to, Chris? Because according to this poll your age group is against it by 49% to 29%. You’re gender is against it 46% to 44%. You’re race is against it 57% to 33%. I suppose the “peer group” you choose to identify with for this scenario is Fulton/DeKalb Democrats. In that case I guess it’s a good thing that groups like the NAACP and the Sierra Club haven’t come out as being opposed to the tax.

      Actually, Obama won the 10 county region with only 57% of the vote. Barnes only won 52% of the vote in 2010.

  2. Three Jack says:

    The GOP – party of vote for us because we’re not quite as crappy as the other guys puts forth a transportation plan using the same logic. ‘Best we can hope for right now’ is not an enticing pitch to those like myself who have witnessed so many failed transportation plans over the years.

    If it passes which I hope for Atlanta’s sake it does not, it will end up being one of the biggest boondoggles in quite a while. Projects will take forever to get started, even longer to complete and in the end, we will still be bogged down in traffic because this is not a gridlock reduction plan as much as it is a pie-in-the-sky, try to appease everybody plan. TSPLOST should be voted down with voters demanding that the legislature do it’s job instead of passing the responsibility and additional taxes onto the public.

    • How do you propose the legislature “do its job instead of passing the responsibility and additional taxes onto the public.” -?? I’m asking seriously. The projects cost money -are you saying the leg should just raise taxes? Would you have been happier if the legislature had just imposed $6+ billion in new taxes (roughly 1/3 of the entire state budget) and told voters “Hey, it’s our responsibility?”

      • ryanhawk says:

        The most obvious thing for the state legislature to do would be to stop diverting 25% of the state gas tax that we pay to the general fund for other uses.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “The most obvious thing for the state legislature to do would be to stop diverting 25% of the state gas tax that we pay to the general fund for other uses.”

          Exactly.

      • Three Jack says:

        Mike,

        There are many ways for the legislature to accomplish transportation requirements w/o first seeking a new tax…they have been doing it for years w/o a SPLOST. First they must get priorities in order which means no more abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigrant, go fish, etc. BS bills that take time from priorities like transportation.

        Next it would be nice to see fiscal conservative actually conserve fiscally. As Charlie mentioned, they immediately added spending this year when ‘found’ money showed up in the balance sheet. They authorized millions for a new stadium, millions for Go Fish and a host of other non-essential expenditures. Seems to me it would have been wiser to allocate these millions toward transportation.

        If after reforming the tax and spend systems in this state there is still not enough money to cover necessary transportation projects, then and only then should they seek additional revenue from taxpayers.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “If after reforming the tax and spend systems in this state there is still not enough money to cover necessary transportation projects, then and only then should they seek additional revenue from taxpayers.”

          Yes, exactly!

          Georgia Legislature: Unhand that high-priced escort, put down that ridiculously expensive bottle of liquor, stop eating that $500 meal for a sec and take note of what these are saying on how to improve transportation WITHOUT RAISING TAXES!

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “There are many ways for the legislature to accomplish transportation requirements w/o first seeking a new tax…they have been doing it for years w/o a SPLOST.”

          Very well stated, sir and very much agreed.

          If the legislature truly wanted to fund transit expansion they could get a helluva lot farther utilizing user fees and public-private partnerships instead of attempting to utilize extremely-limited revenue streams from politically-improbable tax increases.

      • rrrrr says:

        There would have been roughly 6 MILLION+ more available for the implementation if they had…

      • ryanhawk says:

        Their is an infinite number of alternatives. A better question: Can we afford to waste scare tax dollars on transportation projects that do not effectively address the critical issue of congestion in Metro Atlanta?

      • Three Jack says:

        John,

        No we cannot continue to do nothing as has been the case pretty much since the GOP took over in GA. First they let Perdueless kill the Northern Arc then basically ignored the problem while ARC and GRTA conducted study after study. Now here we are desperate to do something even if it cost billions but accomplishes little to nothing in regard to problem areas like Cherokee and Cobb.

        As I wrote in response to Mike, they need to first get their fiscal house in order before seeking more money from taxpayers. Do that and in the meantime learn more about Intelligent Transportation Systems to include in any future proposal.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “No we cannot continue to do nothing as has been the case pretty much since the GOP took over in GA. First they let Perdueless kill the Northern Arc then basically ignored the problem while ARC and GRTA conducted study after study.”

          The GOP didn’t really let Perdue kill the Northern Arc as much they strongly encouraged him to do it as soon as was humanly possible, which he did right after taking office as Governor in 2003.

          The GOP didn’t want any parts of a seemingly increasingly unpopular and polarizing road construction project, that helped defeat incumbent Governor Roy Barnes and the long-ruling Democrats.

          The GOP also was not going to do anything to greatly alienate some of their most loyal supporters and constituents in Republican suburban/exurban strongholds in Forsyth and Cherokee counties with whom the proposed Northern Arc was wildly unpopular locally where the road was proposed to run close to affluent homes and through the properties of landowners who wanted to retain the option to sale their land to the highest-bidding real estate developer.

      • notsplost says:

        Conservative first principle: when in doubt, do not pass/vote yes for any new legislation or tax. There must be a compelling reason for changing existing laws, due to the law of unintended consequences and the fact that every new law takes away someone’s freedom or money.

        With that in mind, my first alternative is to do nothing. Before I hear the Chamber of Commerce types wailing that that is going to turn us into Birmingham (heaven forbid!), let me observe that from my vantage point traffic has actually gotten slightly better or at least no worse since the recession began. DOT miles driven studies back that up. My commute time from Cobb to North Fulton is the same now as it was in 2007.
        Demographically the Atlanta area is no longer growing at the rate it was 10 years ago. With our unemployment rate above the national average for at least the past 4 years, it may not ever return to the rapid growth phase.

        My second alternative would be to fully fund MARTA through fare increases. Let the end users of that system pay. The outer counties need to prepare for slow or no growth, which will be a shock to the local governments that are used to an era of cheap money fueled by population growth.

  3. elfiii says:

    Mrs. elfiii and I constitute 2 NW Dekalb votes against T SPLOST.

    You can make I-285 10 lanes wide on both sides all the way around the ATL and all you will accomplish is compacting the “congestion” over a wider area and a shorter distance with the end result being it still takes the same amount of time, gasoline, and frustration to get from Point A to Point B.

    The only cure is for more “Damn Yankees” to move back home.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “The only cure is for more “Damn Yankees” to move back home.”

      The “wishful thinking” approach to transportation planning….I like it!

      The “Damn Yankees” are likely never going to be driven to move back home because for many of them, a depressed Atlanta is still infinitely better than a depressed Buffalo or a depressed Detroit any day of the week.

      • elfiii says:

        The “Damn Yankees” are likely never going to be driven to move back home because for many of them, a depressed Atlanta is still infinitely better than a depressed Buffalo or a depressed Detroit any day of the week.

        A man has to have his dreams to get through the day. Besides, I have every confidence the South shall rise again. 🙂

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          But the South has already risen again, why do you think that so many “Damn Yankees” are moving here in droves?

          It’s the South (primarily the principals of Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia) that have increasingly been the hottest growth-wise over the past couple of decades or so while the Rustbelt/Snowbelt states (Northeast and Great Lakes) that have either been growing not even half as fast as the South or have been outright shrinking (see parts of Western New York, Western Pennsylvania, Northern Ohio, Northern Indiana and, especially, Michigan).

          It’s the South that has the nicest weather, it’s the South whose votes carry the most weight in Presidential elections and national political trends, it’s the South that is home to the World’s Busiest Passenger Airport (Atlanta) and the Western Hemisphere’s Busiest Freight Airport (Memphis) and it’s the South that has consistently had the highest population and job growth rates over the last few decades.

          It’s the South that wears the crown (SEC football, need I say more?) circa-2012.

          “Heavy is the head that wears the crown”.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “You can make I-285 10 lanes wide on both sides all the way around the ATL and all you will accomplish is compacting the “congestion” over a wider area and a shorter distance with the end result being it still takes the same amount of time, gasoline, and frustration to get from Point A to Point B.”

      How about making the I-285 Perimeter at least 12 lanes wide instead, like the Virginia and Maryland authorities are in the process of doing to the I-495 Capital Beltway?

      The only “catch” is that the two new additional lanes in each direction will most likely be HOT lanes (Oh, joy! More HOT lanes!).

      http://virginiahotlanes.com/

      http://www.revive285.com/index.html

      • elfiii says:

        “How about making the I-285 Perimeter at least 12 lanes wide instead, like the Virginia and Maryland authorities are in the process of doing to the I-495 Capital Beltway?”

        If they did that there would be nothing left of Atlanta. It would be turned into a NASCAR race track at that point, only the top attainable speed would still be under 5 mph.

  4. debbie0040 says:

    It is going to fail. The Sierra Club folks and the DeKalb NAACP are just now beginning the fight.

    There will be nothing to bring out the Democrats in many areas. The July 31 Primaries will be dominated by Republican voters.

    If it is passes, as soon as the results are certified, there will be court challenge filed and injunction requested to delay the implementation until the courts decide the issue…

      • Rambler1414 says:

        Better yet,

        why did the GA Legislature give us this screwed-up system if it’s just going to end up in Court for years?

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Why not? Whether intentionally or unintentionally, in court is where much of their legislation ends up these days.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      Debbie , could there be a challenge to the voting date of late July, (primaries, a few local interest elections.) An issue this big should OBVIOUSLY be put to vote when the maximum number of citizens go to the polls, November.

      • Rambler1414 says:

        This was a big topic several months ago.

        The Tea Partiers chimed in,
        NOT wanting it moved to November for this very reason.

        It’s been resolved.

        • NoTeabagging says:

          Are you saying the Tea Party does NOT want this issue voted on in November? If so, then it contradicts their ‘more power to the people’ and ‘Restore the Constitution’ mantras.

          • Rambler1414 says:

            Correct.

            I believe their official stance was “The only way we support moving the T-SPLOST vote to November is if a law is passed moving ALL SPLOST votes to general elections.”

            • NoTeabagging says:

              Well that’s counterproductive…and a bit fishy, going against the Tea Party mission statements.

  5. NoTeabagging says:

    IMNSHO Rosetta Stone is a Republican biased group. Not surprising that they report opposition to TSPLOST. God only knows how many people they called (from a caller ID hidden-out of state service BTW) just to get the small sampling to even answer the questions.

    Meanwhile, in the “What’s in it for me department?” we have Nathan Deal on a 4.5 Mil$ fundraising binge supporting TSPLOST.

    Not really sure how to put these two report together.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      In currently in the Don’t Trust Them group. Remember GA 400 tolls? Remember the failed Trauma Center vote?

      • Scott65 says:

        TIA is limited by target funding raised or 10yrs whichever comes first. GA400 never had anything written into law stating that the toll had to end, so you cant compare the two. You can, however, go after those that extended the toll and those that squealed about how horrid it was then did nothing about it (typical here in GA).

        • NoTeabagging says:

          Thanks Scott, but word on the street was…the toll would end when the collections paid for construction.

  6. gcp says:

    A question for all that favor T-SPLOST: Do you also favor replacing the Ga. Income Tax with a state sales tax?

  7. Rambler1414 says:

    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal made a campaign visit before several hundred North Fulton business leaders, but it wasn’t for himself or another political candidate. His visit was to gain support for the regional transportation sales tax (TSPLOST) going before voters on July 31.

    Georgia’s governor supports the idea of getting all transportation decisions moved from the GDOT Board in favor of regional decisions and cooperation.

    http://alpharetta.patch.com/articles/gov-deal-backs-transportation-sales-tax

  8. saltycracker says:

    Rep. Sean Jerguson who serves on the executive committee for the project list tells us there are 11 projects on the list that are in violation of the law as they are for maintenance. Suggestions are a friend of the court get an injunction to stop the T-SPLOST tax vote and/or the local Elections Committees to remove it from the ballot.

    Rep. Jerguson along with the other Cherokee state legislators is opposed to the current T-SPLOST suggests we vote no and go back to the drawing board to develop a plan that might alleviate congestion, which the current plan will not.

    Should the tax fail in the 10 county area the legislators plan to introduce legislation to veto the penalty.

    The warning on T-SPLOST was to be be very concerned to what we are getting into, not just now, but for the long term. The committment is forever and the only sure source of long term money is the local taxpayer.

    • Charlie says:

      Interesting that Jerguson made this suggestion, as I had this in my inbox when I woke up this morning:

      In reaction to the T-SPLOST panel hosted by the CherokeeCounty Republican Women, Republican for State House District 21 Candidate, ScotTurner, issued the following statement.

      “I am glad to see my opponent has finally seen the light regarding T-SPLOST and is now speaking out against it when as recently as February 18th, at a town hall meeting, he was still trying to gauge public sentiment about the bill he once voted for.“

      “I found it curious that he failed to level with the audience and let them know that he served as a member of the executive committee of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable which crafted the TSPLOST project list. Instead, he intimated several times that he had only begun research earlier in the day on certain aspects of the project list. He then mentioned several objections to the project list from his research. This leads me to ask why he didn’t object in October of 2011 when he had the chance, in December when he began gauging public response, or as recently as Februarywhen he hadn’t yet made up his mind.”

      “I was, however, very pleased to see my opponent agree withmy call for the repeal of the penalty clause of the TIA, because we should never be penalized for not agreeing to tax ourselves. But this leaves me asking a very important question: Is this enough? I do not believe it is.”

      “We cannot rest on the promise that we won’t be penalized for refusing to tax ourselves, and I challenge my opponent to also join me in calling for a new clause that would guarantee Cherokee County and the other Counties voting on the T-SPLOST to opt out of the tax should the voters decide to vote it down, even if other Counties choose to vote in favor of it. A County like Cherokee that has little in common with some of the other Counties in our region should not be forced into subsidizing mass-transit projects that will yield little-to-no benefit for local citizens.”

      “When I decided to enter the political arena, I did so witha genuine desire to serve others and to make our community better. Seeing my opponent come to the right side of this issue, even if late, tells me that my campaign has already had a desirable impact.”

      “Still, we can do better.”

      • Calypso says:

        “…the repeal of the penalty clause of the TIA, because we should never be penalized for not agreeing to tax ourselves.”

        Ok, I’ll bite. What is this penalty to which Turner is referring?

          • Calypso says:

            Thanks salty. Do you mean ‘counties’ that vote no within the region get reduced from 30 to 10% ?

            • Rambler1414 says:

              Regions that do not pass the Referendum will see their LMIG required match go from 10% to 30%.

              page 24
              http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/documents/tia_legislation.pdf

              “(d) In the event a special district sales and use tax election is held and the voters in a special district do not approve the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax, the local governments in such special district shall be required to provide a 30 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation for transportation projects and programs for at least 24 months and until such time as a special district sales and use tax is approved.”

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              From my understanding, it’s not individual counties who vote no whose state transportation funding gets reduced from 90% to 70%, but it is an entire region in which the T-SPLOST is defeated whose local governments will have to pay a 30% match as opposed to the current 10% match that they only have to pay.

              From page 23 of the Transportation Investment Act:

              “(d) In the event a special district sales and use tax election is held and the voters in a special district do not approve the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax, the local governments in such special district shall be required to provide a 30 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation for transportation projects and programs for at least 24 months and until such time as a special district sales and use tax is approved.”

              http://www.it3.ga.gov/Documents/HB277-BreakdownbySection.pdf

              • Scott65 says:

                …and that also affects federal matching funds as well. Bottom line, you want a local project…you will have to pay substantially more. Thats what I think most people are not getting out of all the chatter about this. The penalty is quite substantial for the REGION as a whole

      • saltycracker says:

        Correct. I met Mr. Turner there and he was distributing his plan of action with anti-TSPLOST bullet points. I suspect he was a bit surprised that Jerguson, on the panel, did such a good job of positioning and his high point was nailing the ARC rep in a big “mistake” on the law.

        Jerguson along with other anti-T-SPLOSTers, Steve Brown and Bob Ross of Fayette Co. were very prepared for the debate & Q&A’s. Both positions answered all the questions, the meeting was respectful and most informative. Republican Women run a pretty good program.

        Scot Turner deserves a closer look.

      • Three Jack says:

        This reeks of ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’…don’t worry TSPLOST supporters, I voted for your project list so it is on the ballot but I have to get re-elected now. I’ll fall back in line come January…oh yeah, when is the next quail hunt?

        • saltycracker says:

          Yep, also begs the question of poisoning the feed in the fields (let illegal projects in to kill it later)…….or maybe…..a secret agent man…..
          An explanation is forthcoming……

    • gt7348b says:

      Rep. Jergensen should familiarize himself with the MARTA Act of 1965 in which the State of Georgia itself defines capital projects instead of political grandstanding and wasting taxpayers dollars on unnecessary threats of litigation.

  9. saltycracker says:

    Sen. Rogers stepped to the mike to support the “NO” new tax crowd and in sidebar conversations pointed out the his opponent Beach was an ardent supporter of TSPLOST. That could be a dealbreaker for Beach.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      And it should be a dealbreaker for Beach for supporting this giveaway to roadbuilders, developers, land spectulators and now railbuilders.

      But as I understand it, Rogers voted for the T-SPLOST twice before being against it as he currently he is now, especially in front of Tea Party groups and hard-core small government, low-tax conservatives.

      So shouldn’t Rogers supposed TWO votes for the T-SPLOST be a dealbreaker for him as well?

      • saltycracker says:

        So we go back to our golden dome rule: Vote for the one that will do unto others more than to me.

  10. NoTeabagging says:

    Was insomniac last night, so I went to http://www.t-splost.com. Read over list of 192 projects for Atlanta region. Huge variety some sound good, other not so much. Interestingly I see references to PLAN 204o, some of the items on the list are not on immediate timeline but would start in later years. For instance.the beltline transit projects are not up to start construction until 2031.

    • Rambler1414 says:

      Some projects are going to be FORCED to start later in the 10-year period, due to cash flow issues. The $6B isn’t going to magically appear on January 1 2013 and be spent down over time, this account will accumulate over the 10-year period and some projects will finish before others.

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