Defensive Maneuvers In Advance Of T-SPLOST Vote

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

When politicians want to make news, it’s generally done via Sunday news programs or Monday morning press conferences.  It’s a not so subtle way of attempting to control the news flow for the week.  Conversely, when they prefer not to make news, press releases are often buried late on a Friday afternoon.  Most folks have mentally checked out for the weekend and are less likely to catch the Friday evening news or scan the Saturday paper for political updates.

Thus it appeared somewhat curious on the surface that Governor Deal announced late Friday that he had saved Georgians from an automatic tax increase.  The sales tax portion of Georgia’s motor fuels tax was set to increase by eight tenths of one cent per gallon on July 1st based on formula that was approved in the 80’s.  Normally, a tax cut is something that politicians choose to trumpet, rather than bury in a Summer Friday news cycle.

The news release states that “gas prices are high by historical standards” though they have been falling in the past month.  With the economic recovery still slow, there will not be a tax increase because “the state should not add to that burden at this juncture.”

The announcement allows the Governor to avoid news stories about gas taxes going up around the first of July.  Coincidentally, early voting for Georgia’s July 31st primary will begin about that time.  On that ballot will be votes across the state for regional T-SPLOSTs to increase sales taxes to pay for transportation. 

Suburban Republicans who already feel “taxed enough already” may not need much of a reminder that gas taxes are going up just as they are asked to go to the polls and vote themselves a 16% increase on the amount of sales taxes they pay.  Polls already show these voters decidedly against the T-SPLOSTs without the additional agitation of another tax increase.  Avoiding the increase – even one as small as eight tenths of one cent per gallon – was the safe move for the Governor.

Safe does not mean the move is not without paradox.  75% of the increase in taxes on motor fuels goes directly to D.O.T. funds.  Construction costs on road projects are directly proportional to the costs of motor fuels.  The move takes money away from road construction projects just as the campaign for T-SPLOST is hitting its peak, claiming economic calamity if we don’t give more money to transportation.

The Governor now has a stated position that Georgia taxpayers should not have to bear the burden of an eight tenths of one cent per gallon of gasoline purchased, but is currently assisting in the fundraising and campaigning so that Georgians will pay an additional one cent on all retail purchases.  It is difficult to construct intellectual consistency between these two positions.  It is far easier to construct a political pragmatism around them.  Georgians are more likely to support raising their own taxes if they are not reminded almost simultaneously that the taxes they are also paying for the same purpose are also increasing.

MARTA also appears to be upholding its responsibility of making no sudden moves leading up to the vote.  A super-majority of Fulton and DeKalb county voters  – those who already pay a 1% sales tax for regional transit – will be required to do the heavy lifting in passing the Atlanta region’s T-SPLOST.  MARTA had been threatening fare increases and drastic service cuts in this year’s budget.

An $800 Million budget released Monday includes neither fare increases nor service cuts.  As such, Fulton and Dekalb taxpayers who will be asked to increase their own taxes to 8% or 9% will not have to ask themselves why they will be paying more to get less.

The T-SPLOSTs votes remain close in polls, with the Atlanta region specifically looking more and more like it is in trouble for the July 31st vote.  The news released Friday by the Governor and Monday by MARTA may not help, but that was not the point.  Both were designed to not hurt the process.   For those with a vested in the passage, it is just good defense.

86 comments

  1. bullFrog says:

    At the Hall Co Republican Party/Lanier Tea Party Patriots 9th District candidate forum last weekend the result of a straw poll on T-SPLOST was 13% For, 86% Against.

  2. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Forget T-SPLOST and forget unsuccessful and futile attempts at politically-impossible tax increases.

    Utilizing user fees in the form of tolls for new expressway lanes and increased fares for new transit, as well as directing to construction of untolled roads the 4% of the gas tax that currently goes into the state’s general fund, is the only way that we are going to ever to be able to pay for all of our overwhelming transportation needs.

    User fees…It’s the only way!!!!!

    • Baker says:

      1) Morally, you’re probably correct on the user fees.
      2) Unfortunately if we don’t pass TSPLOST and then try for something else, i.e. user fees, it’ll take five years to get to that point.
      3) If people were freaking out as much as they were on the I-85 stuff, and sundry other things, imagine the poop storm that would come with user fees all over the place.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “3) If people were freaking out as much as they were on the I-85 stuff, and sundry other things, imagine the poop storm that would come with user fees all over the place.”

        You’re right. Let’s just continue to do nothing…It’s an approach that seems to really work for us here in Georgia and it’s much more comfortable that way.

        • Baker says:

          That’s my point on the need to pass TSPLOST. I think the amount of freak out you’d see on user fees would be much higher than a TSPLOST passage.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            It’s the freakout that is occurring right now over the T-SPLOST, period, by OTPers (transit-adverse Tea Partiers, suburbanites and exurbanites) and ITPers alike (anti-road Sierra Club and company), that is most likely going to get it voted down.

            Just what did the powers-that-be think would be the reaction of OTPers when they saw that their tax dollars would be going to fund upgrades, expansions and connections to MARTA and transit lines and linear parks in the City of Atlanta?

            Likewise, just what did they think would be the reaction of Intowners when they saw that their tax dollars would go to fund road construction in the suburbs?

            Attempting to mix the wildly divergent transportation, economic development, land spectulation and political needs of the politically-conservative suburbs and exurbs and the politically-liberal urban core was a flawed and lazy approach haphazardly slapped together by the State Legislature that was destined for utter failure from the beginning.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            At the very least, with user fees only the people who use a given transportation infrastructure (tolled expressway, transit line, etc) pay for it so that not everyone’s taxes has to go up to pay for projects in another part of the region that they don’t want to pay for.

            Like suburbanites feeling that they will be forced to pay for a MARTA system that they utterly distain, and intowners feeling that they will be forced to pay for OTP road construction that they absolutely loathe and most everyone, OTPers and ITPers alike wondering just what in the hell does paying for runway improvements at relatively little-used airstrips have to do helping to relieve traffic congestion and improve mobility?

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        People were freaking out on the I-85 “stuff” because instead of ADDING 2-3 new HOT/HOV-3 lanes to the I-85 right-of-way and opening up the existing HOV-2 lanes to all traffic, the flaming idiots in state government decided to take away an existing lane of traffic on what was already a very-heavily congested road by converting the existing HOV-2 lanes to HOT/HOV-3 lanes and backing-up traffic beyond creation.

        Those idiots spent $70 million to make traffic WORSE and then tried to act like it was a smashing success and the worse part of it all was that they knew that traffic would be made worse by pushing all of the two-person carpools out of the HOV lanes and into the general purpose lanes.

        But I rest my case, because just talking about the I-85 HOT lanes makes me angry and from what I’ve been told, people don’t like me when I’m angry.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Or the state could have just simply kept the existing carpool lanes as HOV-2 lanes and added 2-3 reversible HOT lanes, either way the fact remains that the state should have ADDED lanes to the road instead of taking away existing lanes for HOT lanes.

  3. Calypso says:

    Charlie, you said, “It is far easier to construct a political pragmatism around them. Georgians are more likely to support raising their own taxes if they are not reminded almost simultaneously that the taxes they are also paying for the same purpose are also increasing.”

    I disagree. My take on it is if the governor isn’t willing to allow the automatic gas tax to adjust, the gas tax which at least 75% of goes to roads and such, then why would the general public feel compeled to enact a 16.66% tax on themselves?

    If the governor doesn’t think transportation is in need of the $.008 per gallon tax the automatic gas tax would bring about, then why is it in need of my $.01 per dollar tax increase? The dichotomy is blatant and self-defeating.

    It is the folks most in need of transportation relief who pay the gas tax, i.e. car drivers. The TSPLOST will be paid for by many folks who have only an indirect use of the transportation system.

    • GTKay says:

      Car drivers are the only ones who may buy gas, but everyone benefits from the transportation system. Everything you purchase, and everything tourists and visitors purchase, has arrived at the store ultimately by way of our roads. Gas mileage is going up and vehicle miles traveled is flat, so just relying on the gas tax puts the burden on just a portion of the people who benefit.

      • Calypso says:

        I understand your point and agree with it for the most part.

        Charlie said the move the guv made by canceling the automatic gas tax increase was done to ameliorate the negativity of those voting on TSPLOST may feel on the heels of the gas tax hike.

        I contend just the opposite. Why are you (Gov. Deal and legislature) cajoling me to vote a tax on myself for transportation when you don’t have the balls to allow the automatic fuel tax increase to take effect? If you need my 1% so badly then why don’t you need the fuel tax increase as well?

        This holds true regardless as to how one feels about TSPLOST. If you want/need to borrow $20 from me then why are you lighting $1 bills on fire while you ask me?

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “This holds true regardless as to how one feels about TSPLOST. If you want/need to borrow $20 from me then why are you lighting $1 bills on fire while you ask me?”

          So that I can burn your money, too?

        • Charlie says:

          Perhaps I wasn’t as clear as intended.

          The reason this was buried on a Friday instead of being trumpted on Monday as a tax cut is that the hope is no one will see it, and thus not make the connection.

          Those of us who remain informed can see the paradox of taking money away from transportation while begging for voters to pass a tax increase so more money can go to transportation.

          The bet is that those of us who are informed will be greatly outnumbered by those who aren’t.

          • Calypso says:

            “The bet is that those of us who are informed will be greatly outnumbered by those who aren’t.”

            Better than even money, I’d guess.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Then why not abolish the gas tax and charge tolls on every major thoroughfare?

      • ryanhawk says:

        I don’t think the data is consistent with your story? Can you point me towards data that shows a trend of declining gas tax revenues? The numbers I am familiar with show only a very recent, and modest, downturn in gas tax revenue — and the trend is not at all correlated with advances in fuel efficiency.

        Transportation funding is nonsensical. Why should we listen to people who divert 25% of the gas tax revenues we already collect to the general fund when they tell us we need to adopt a new sales tax to pay for road construction? How about not diverting the gas tax I already pay?

  4. debbie0040 says:

    I agree with Charlie’s article. It really is not logical that Gov. Deal would stop the .008 automatic gas tax that travelers driving through Atlanta on the way to a Florida vacation would pay, while campaigning on behalf of an across the board 1 % tax increase..

    I do think the article at the link below had something to do with Gov. Deal’s decision. I was amazed at Brian Robinson’s response. “Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said it’s unfair to say the governor has flip-flopped on his commitment not to support a tax increase. Robinson said the referendum was approved before Deal took office.

    “This is not a violation of the pledge. [Nathan Deal] has cut taxes. This passed before he was governor. He is advocating for Georgians to approve it, not imposing it on them,” Robinson said via email.
    Robinson added: “Governor Deal didn’t father this baby.”

    Gov. Deal may not have “fathered this baby” but he has been supporting it so long, it is beginning to look alot like him…

    Deal’s support for T-SPLOST veers from tax pledge

    http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2012/jun/08/nathan-deal/deals-support-t-splost-veers-tax-pledge/

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Normally, I don’t talk about children, but, MAN!…That T-SPLOST is one ugly baby!

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “….save the mother !”

            …Save Kasim Reed?

            Oh well, I guess saving Kasim Reed would make sense as this U-G-L-Y tsplost baby has in effect become the illegitimate political love child of Nathan Deal and Kasim Reed.

  5. seekingtounderstand says:

    the DOT and State have the right to re-direct funds at will. So you could end up loosing state road money and federal funds yet pay TSPLOST. Guess where they will redirect other funds too?
    Who ever wrote this bill knew how to play it and reap the rewards Good ol boy style!

  6. saltycracker says:

    Good column on the craftiness politicians use to try to slip something in and another reason to be very afraid. Gas taxes and MARTA rates should have to go up with or without the 1%. The 1% will cost 10 counties for the greater good of a few heavily populated ones and a guarantee to get worse down the railroad.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      The problem is not that the state (GDOT) or MARTA does not have enough money for transportation, the problem is extremely poor management (extreme mismanagement) and utilization of the resources (money) that they already have.

      Like the $1 billion that GDOT just recently found that the agency admitted that it didn’t even know it had lost, or the 4% of the gas tax that goes into the state’s general fund instead of road maintenance, or MARTA’s refusal to increase its own revenue stream by raising its own fares to much more adequately fund its own operations, maintenance and expansions.

      • Calypso says:

        “…the 4% of the gas tax that goes into the state’s general fund instead of road maintenance…”

        I believe it is 25% of the current gas tax that gets siphoned directly into the general fund, instead of the transportation projects to which it should be directed, not a measly 4%.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          The state’s “official” numbers are that between 1-4% of the gas tax goes into the general fund.

          Though with this notoriously sticky-fingered bunch in charge, no one would be the slightest bit surprised if the number was 25% which is the most likely case.

          From what I understand, 75% of the gas tax goes to road maintenance, 4% goes to the state’s general fund and the remaining 21% disappears into the large faceless blob of ridiculously incompetent malfeasance called GDOT mismanagement.

          But you never know, maybe GDOT will keep finding misplaced money that they didn’t even know they had lost.

          • GTKay says:

            No, of the 4% that we are talking about, one quarter of that 4% goes to the General Fund and three quarters of it go to GDOT. GDOT has been asking for years to get the whole amount, but the legislature won’t do it.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              “GDOT has been asking for years to get the whole amount, but the legislature won’t do it.”

              Well, you don’t say?

              • Rambler1414 says:

                Each year the legislature takes the 4th penny and spends it on something else. Education, GO FISH, etc.

                GDOT has been asking for the 4th penny out of the gas tax for a LONG time.

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  In other words, the legislature takes the 4th penny and sticks it up their —.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        Or the money to pay off the giant bond debt that Perdue left us with plus add in the lost matching funds equals what cost to taxpayers?
        And they will do it again with TSPLOST……. the folks that sell the bonds are doing very well.

  7. I Miss the 90s says:

    I have two things to say on this topic.

    First, the legislature and the governor are all cowards for not deciding this issue by themselves. Sure, it is nice to allow the.citizens to vote on increasing their own taxes…but a public.opinion poll is much cheaper.than putting this on a ballot and provides the same results (absent the millions of dollars aimed at misinforming voters).

    Second, I know federal spending is.a big issue amongst certain members of the public. Guess what? If states do not start pulling their share of the costs associated with providing public goods, then federal spending will not only continue to increase, but control over such spending will be determined by Congress rather than our state legislature.

    Personally, I am in favor of the T-splost. Not because I commute (I am semi-retired, but because the additional state spending will both create private sector jobs and increase economic efficiency. Sure, I wish there was something in the proposal to update our public transit system (specifically.making M

    • Charlie says:

      I generally agree with your first two points. I remain undecided on the last one. But I still have a couple of weeks to work that one out.

  8. debbie0040 says:

    Received this today, “The T-Splost folks are coming after you and plan to put out a release, calling you out for supporting a rise in the gas tax which has no oversight, no accountability, no citizen input and no project list.”

    I do support an increase in the gas tax to pay for ROAD improvements once gas prices come down to a reasonable level. Is it such a novel concept that people that actually use resources should be the ones to pay for maintenance and improvements? The pro tax crowd that support T-SPLOST support forcing people that don’t even use MARTA to pay for expansion, improvements, and MAINTENANCE for people that do use MARTA. They clearly are trying to usurp the rights of voters in counties to decide if they want to pay an additional tax by forcing counties that voted down the tax to pay the tax if it passes the collective vote of the region. Guess there are some Republicans that support redistribution of wealth as statistics show that Atlanta receives 268% of the funding from T-SPLOST based on their population . According to Baruch Feigenbaum of Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Atlanta should receive 8 -10 % more than their population because of being a jobs center and other counties should receive 1 -1.6% less. Atlanta receives 268% of the T-SPLOST project funding per population.

    To the pro tax T-SPLOST crowd, “BRING IT ON” !

  9. Charlie says:

    “once gas prices come down to a reasonable level”

    The inclusion of those words changes a reasonable policy alternative into fantasy.

    The reason gas prices are coming down is because the world economy sucks at the moment. Even if we drill everywhere, long term trends indicate that gas prices will rise from current levels. That is the simple reality we face for the forseeable future.

    I personally would prefer the motor fuels tax that goes to the general fund be returned to the D.O.T. budget, and then the motor fuels tax increased accordingly based on a long term need.

    But putting a caveat that this will be done at some future point in time when we decide gas prices are “reasonable” – whatever that means – takes away any seriousness of this being an alternative.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “But putting a caveat that this will be done at some future point in time when we decide gas prices are “reasonable” – whatever that means – takes away any seriousness of this being an alternative.”

      That’s the whole point.

      No one, even those of us who acknowledge that current fuel taxes are entirely too low to fund anywhere near close to all of our overwhelming road transportation needs, really wants to pay more in gas taxes because paying more in gas taxes means paying more at the pump, which is already a painful enough experience for all of us.

      • Calypso says:

        “No one…really wants to pay more in gas taxes because paying more in gas taxes means paying more at the pump…” and we all know how much you despise TSPLOST and yet you desire transportation improvements in some fashion or another.

        LDIG, has the old adage “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” been entirely lost on you?

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “and we all know how much you despise TSPLOST”

          “Despise” is a pretty strong word for the way I feel about the T-SPLOST.

          ….But it isn’t anywhere near strong enough.

          There’s more money for transportation improvements and upgrades by utilizing the user fee approach as each project would fund itself.

          That’s as opposed to one haphazardly slapped together T-SPLOST which clumsily attempts to only partially fund roads, transit and economic development projects from a regional sales tax imposed on extremely politically and culturally-divergent areas.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      For a politician to suggest the idea of raising the gas tax is political suicide, mainly because it has the word “TAX” in it.

      I say that we completely abandon the gas tax for all Georgians and just levy mileage-based user fees on all in-state vehicles (whatever you do, just don’t call it a “tax”).

      We can keep the gas tax in place only for out-of-state drivers and vehicles so that we can still capture revenues from the Interstate car and truck traffic that contributes extremely heavily to the wear-and-tear on our roads.

  10. debbie0040 says:

    Another caveat would be that the elected officials would have to show they are being fiscally responsible with the tax dollars they have now and raising the gas tax is the only way to obtain additional funding. If those conditions are met, then I could support a increase in gas tax.
    I am amazed at the pro tax Republicans we have in state government and Legislature that are openly supporting this massive tax hike. They might say they believe in local control, but anyone that voted for the TIA legislation clearly does not support local control..

    • Rambler1414 says:

      “They might say they believe in local control, but anyone that voted for the TIA legislation clearly does not support local control.”

      Who created and approved the Project List? Repeat after me… LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

      Do you support the Governor & State Transportation Board setting priorities and building the projects they want to based on congressional district balancing? Or do you support more local control in setting the priorities for infrastructure investment?

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          I asked Gwinnett County and they said feel absolutely GRRRRREAT!!!! About local control.

          They just would like to know if anyone is interested in buying an empty baseball stadium and and several dozen acres of swampland, they’ve got a vast overinventory of it and they would greatly appreciately if someone were to take it off of their hands for them.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “Do you support the Governor & State Transportation Board setting priorities and building the projects they want to based on congressional district balancing? Or do you support more local control in setting the priorities for infrastructure investment?”

        Are you kidding me? I support NEITHER as state, regional and local factions all have their grubby little crooked fingerprints all over this extremely-suspect T-SPLOST.

    • GTKay says:

      Debbie, electric cars and hybrids travel the same roads as totally gas powered cars, yet their drivers will contribute signigicantly less toward maintenance through the gas tax. Admittedly I don’t see them as a huge factor until their price comes down and the technology improves, but they are a factor.

      Do you support a 25 cents/gallon increase in the gas tax? The CAFE standards for cars built 2016 and after will be 35 mpg. 2025 and later will be 54mpg. People will be buying half as much gas as they are now therefore paying half as much in gas tax. Construction costs will undoubtably be higher, so how high are you willing to raise the tax to cover costs?

      The criteria “once gas prices come down to a reasonable level” and “elected officials would have to show they are being fiscally responsible with the tax dollars they have now” are very subjective. Who gets to decide when that golden moment has been reached?

      Local control? You do understand that the current gas tax is collected from all over the state and, since you love the word, “redistributed” to all parts of the state. TIA will keep the taxes collected in a region in that region. The projects on the TIA list were submitted by local county and city officials in each region. That argument holds no water.

      Everyone benefits from the transportation system. The burden of improving and maintaining our infrastructure should fall on those who benefit from it. Let’s elect a president and federal legislators that will decrease the federal tax burden so that we can devote our tax dollars to state and local governments which can serve their citizens far more efficiently and effectively.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        GTKay: Most women I know do not feel safe using Marta. Since you do not claim to use it do you think women who will pay most of this consumption tax should support it.
        Women are shoppers and will pay most of this tax.
        Republican war on women?

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Every republican i have heard speak has been pro TSPLOST, plus the current elected are pushing hard as I can ever remember to get this past. This in itself should be a red flag for Ga voters. The corrupt are winning…………………….God help Georgia after they are finished.

  11. debbie0040 says:

    Of course I don’t support increasing gas prices by 25 cents. I do support toll roads. I think funding for improvement should come from different sources including raising rider fees for MARTA. You put out a very mis-leading press release and we are about to respond in kind…. You guys are upset because you have wasted 7 million dollars. The support for T-SPLOST has dropped 18% in the past month according to the latest poll that is to be released today. You have projects listed that are already funded by GA DOT and construction has already begun on them. The metro Atlanta T-SPLOST is a bailout of an infrastructure this is losing 500 million dollars per year and will still face a 2.3 billion dollar maintenance and state of good repair backlog even if T-SPLOST passes. How do I benefit from MARTA in Atlanta? How do senior citizens and others that don’t travel out of their counties? Everyone benefits from roads. Trucks use roadways to deliver tangible goods and emergency vehicles use roadways as well. Only 5 % of the commuters use mass transit – let those 5 % pay for bailouts/expansions.

    Local control = county not region. Regional entity un-constitutional.

    Do T-SPLOST supporters want to starve senior citizens and single mothers trying to feed their children already struggling to make ends meet in this economy by increasing taxes on groceries and other necessities?

    • Rambler1414 says:

      “Local control = county not region.”

      Local Governments created the Project List.
      Local Governments approved the Project List.

      Every single person who voted on the List is either a Mayor of a City or a County Commissioner.

    • GTKay says:

      Debbie, I’m a mom and teenage taxi driver. I don’t put out press releases. But I have a brain and a BS indicator, and whenever people drag out the starving old people and children argument, the alarm goes off.

      You’re so focused on the funds that go to MARTA, you fail to recognize the fundsthat go to roads projects – over a hundred of them. Look at the list. Every time you read “traffic improvements,” “widening,” and “operational improvements,” those are the things you’re talking about in your post below when you mention flow control solutions and upgrading local roadways. That’s all part of the design process. They don’t just throw up traffic signals and set speed limits and pray it all works out.

      Telecommuting is great optioin, but there are far more jobs in the Atlanta region that require you to physically show up to do your job.

      Toll express lanes would be wonderful if there was any room for them through downtown, and elevated lanes, which I guess would just be a long bridge, would be cool but really, really expensive. They may be an option when the economy gets going, but I don’t think there are many private businesses with that kind of money – unless you want foreign investors to come in. I could be wrong.

      I don’t ride MARTA either, but let’s step back and think big picture. When the Atlanta region invests in transportation, we are a more desirable option for any business looking to relocate. It’s not about whether senior citizens cross the county line. Like it or not, this is a region that surrounds Atlanta and our countys’ economic health is based on the strength of the whole region.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “I do support toll roads.”

      Would you support converting the current four-lane at-grade stoplight-littered (and at times, deadly) Highway 316 into a 6-8 lane separated-grade expressway built to Interstate standards with a 65-70 m.p.h.-urban/75 m.p.h.-rural speed limit between Lawrenceville and Athens with tolls funding the initial construction and continued operation and maintenance over the lifespan of the new infinitely-safer road?

      Keep-in-mind that funding the conversion of Hwy. 316 to a full separated-grade expressway with tolls will get the project completed much quicker than it would be otherwise using traditional methods of financing, which may take as much as up to two decades or more.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “You have projects listed that are already funded by GA DOT and construction has already begun on them.”

      The T-SPLOST list also includes a few projects that could be better and more fully-funded as toll roads.

      Projects designed for T-SPLOST like adding truck lanes to Hwy 6/Thornton Rd/C.H. James Pkwy in Douglas & Cobb counties (project no. TIA-DO-018), the extension of Sugarloaf Parkway from Hwy 316 north to Hwy 20 in Gwinnett County (project no. TIA-GW-060) and the conversion of Hwy 19-41 South/Tara Boulevard to a super-arterial in Clayton County (project no. TIA-CL-018) could be much more effectively-funded with user fees in the form of tolls which would result in more of the project being built much sooner than through the very-limited proposed sales tax.

      Funding the construction, operations and maintenance of these new expressway lane projects with tolls would also free up more money to be available to improve untolled roads (existing expressway lanes and at-grade roads).

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Local commissioners have sold their souls on TSPlOST…….. some have been told they will be supported to higher office. Mine thinks he is going to be the next PSC offical as they have a need for a bought off player.

  12. debbie0040 says:

    SOLUTIONS:
    More telecommuting. Statistics show that more people telecommute now than those that ride mass transit, bicycle or walk to work.
    Flow control solutions like smart red lights and using adjusted speed limits according to congestion to cut down on traffic accidents that slow traffic.
    Toll express lanes through Atlanta that are separated by concrete medians. (No exits in Atlanta)
    Upgrade local roadways to take traffic off Interstates.

    • CobbGOPer says:

      Don’t worry about these knuckleheads, Debbie. They’re just getting desperate now that they know this thing is going down like the Hindenburg.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “Going down like the TITANIC” would be a much more accurate, as well as much more romanticized, failed transportation analogy.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              You are so very correct as this “thing” (call it a tax Frankenstein) was doomed from the start.

              But on the positive side, at least this failed, misguided and flawed initiative is at least a much-needed start of a long-overdue conversation about how to finance critically-needed and long-neglected transportation improvements and upgrades.

              • CobbGOPer says:

                I concur with that. This is a conversation we should have been having in 2002. But Sonny and the Boys were too busy trying to figure out how they would profit from their newfound control of state government.

              • Rambler1414 says:

                Amen.

                GDOT has been pushing the legislature on this for years. This is the best the legislature could come up with… and it’s sad.

                Another idea floating around at the time was a state-wide referendum instead of breaking it up into 13 regions. The rural GA legislators fought this vigourously, afraid that their gas tax would be funneled northward to fix Atlanta’s traffic problems.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Debbie, those are common sense solutions from my standpoint.

      But as far as your idea for toll express lanes through Atlanta, I’ll go one better and suggest that much, if not all, of the freeway system in Metro Atlanta be double-decked as one of the most pressing transportation issues in Metro Atlanta is the exceptionally-heavy Interstate/cross-country/regional/local freight truck traffic that greatly contributes to much of the very-severe traffic congestion in the area.

      By adding an upper deck to Atlanta freeways we can double the capacity of the existing freeway network by expanding it upwards as Metro Atlanta does not have the abundance of adjacent grassy and undeveloped right-of-way that Houston had to dramatically expand its freeway system horizontally as it has done to great effect over the past couple of decades.

      By double-decking the freeways, we can also separate truck and car traffic by designating the existing freeways as a lower-level that would be for vehicles with more than six wheels (heavy trucks, buses, trailers, trucks with oversized loads, etc) and designating the new second-level/upper-deck as an expressway that is restricted only to vehicles with six or fewer wheels (cars, vans, light trucks, etc).

      And we could in effect pay for doubling the increasingly limited current capacity of the freeway system by placing tolls on the upper deck to pay for the initial construction and continued operation and maintenance over the lifespan of that particular piece of transportation infrastructure.

      And if we abolished the gas tax for all Georgians we would still come out ahead as each piece of infrastructure would be responsible for itself and remaining financially viable on its own merits.

      • Calypso says:

        The cost estimate for double-decking 50% of the freeway system in Metro Atlanta is $18 quadrillion dollars US. Double-decking 100% of the freeway system in Metro Atlanta is $35 quadrillion dollars US (there’s a volume discount when we upsize to the 100% program).

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Houston dramatically expanded their freeway system with a mix of user fees in the form of tolls and a much higher state gas tax in Texas.

          Heck, the I-10 Katy Freeway in the Western Suburbs of Houston (the Houston equivalent to Atlanta’s severely-congested and perennially rush-hour gridlocked I-20 West) was just recently widened to up to as many as 26 lanes in width for about 25 miles west of the I-610 Loop (Houston equivalent to Atlanta’s I-285 Perimeter).

          Houston has also invested in converting multiple surface thoroughfares into super-arterials with tolled express lanes and untolled local lanes while completing the Loop 8/Sam Houston Tollway (which is the equvalent to Atlanta’s long-abandoned and cancelled Outer Perimeter) and Texas Highway 6 (which is the equivalent of a second at-grade surface road Outer Perimeter) with a third outer loop, the tolled Texas Highway 99/Grand Parkway under construction (which would be the equivalent to a THIRD Outer Perimeter for Atlanta).

          • debbie0040 says:

            The pro tax Republicans think it is ok to raise taxes on groceries and other necessary essentials to help bail MARTA out and finance a MARTA expansion. Senior citizens, the poor and single mothers trying to feed their children will be adversely impacted by having to pay another 1% on necessary items like food. No wonder many Democrats are turning away from T-SPLOST. I don’t know how Gov. Deal and Lt. Gov. Cagle can look at themselves in the mirror.

            • seekingtounderstand says:

              Actually they are all doing so well they don’t care about a few pennies, they are planning on more consumption taxes……………..are we looking at more sales tax increases…………………yes.

            • GTKay says:

              Debbie, you advocate raising the gas tax, but raising the gas tax 25 cents a gallon would hit hard, too. You’d pay the same amount of increased tax on one gallon of gas as you would on $25 worth of groceries.

              • debbie0040 says:

                GTKAy, I never said I supported raising the gas tax 25 cents per gallon. Please show me where I ever said that. If you read my response above you will see that. I don’t support the T-SPLOST project list for Metro Atlanta as it is wasteful..

                There should have been two seperate Referendums . One for mass transit and one for roads.

                Tax on groceries his everyone even people that don’t travel downtown or use mass transit.. Why should I pay higher taxes for something I never use? Why should senior citizens help bail out MARTA?

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  “Why should I pay higher taxes for something I never use? Why should senior citizens help bail out MARTA?”

                  So that roadbuilders, railbuilders, land spectulators, real estate developers, consultants and all of the other state and local political cronies in the region can (yet again) make healthy profits at our expense?

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  There doesn’t to be one referendum, or two separate referendums for roads and transit or any referendums at all.

                  Our lazy, self-centered and borderline psychopathic state legislators know exactly what our transportation infrastructure needs are and they know exactly how to get them built and operational without raising taxes, they just refuse to do their jobs so that they can continue to comfortably feed at the trough of lobbyist money and gifts without raising a finger to do something that might actually be construed as being even remotely constructive or beneficial to the citizens of this state.

                • GTKay says:

                  Debbie, you advocate raising the gas tax. We are way underfunded, and we will be buying less gas in the near future due to mandated increased gas mileage, so to fund roads and bridges at adequate levels the gas tax will have to be increased significantly – they’re saying 25 cents- to do the job. It’s the transitive property.

                  Your own words: “Trucks use roadways to deliver tangible goods and emergency vehicles use roadways as well” The groceries, flip-flops, and shampoo wouldn’t be there if the road wasn’t. Everyone benefits from the transportation system.

                  You don’t want to pay for something you never use? The current gas tax goes to lots of projects around the state that you don’t use. I pay county taxes for police, the fire department, and the court system which, thankfully, I haven’t had to use. But I have access to them if I need them.

                  This is a regional tax. Local officials in the entire region submitted the projects on the list. The tax pays for all of them. There are projects in Gwinnett that you will benefit from. You’ll drive all over them. We have a much higher chance to benefit from the Atlanta region projects than we do from a project down at the coast. So I’m glad my money from TIA will stay in my region.

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    “So I’m glad my money from TIA will stay in my region.”

                    I think that you meant to say that “I’m so glad that my money from TIA will line the already very deep pockets of well-connected roadbuilders, land spectulators, real estate developers, ridiculously high-priced consultants and railbuilders in my region”.

                    That’s okay, we all knew what you meant to say so we went ahead and fixed it for you, free of charge. No need to thank us.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        Dear fellow GA. As we speak they are planning on re routing all truck traffic away from Atlanta thru south ga. Stop letting them loot you thru Splost money. Its nothing but a economic development boondogle.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “Loot” is such a nice word, but it is far too nice for what they are planning to (yet again) do to us, which is bend us all over and brutally and painfully **** us in the *** without mercy or shame.

  13. debbie0040 says:

    METRO ATLANTA T-SPLOST FAQ

    Of 3.2 billion dollars allocated for transit, roughly 768 million is going for operations and maintenance during the ten year period of T-SPLOST. Where is the money coming from for maintenance and operations after the 10 year period? The pro T-SPLOST crowd has stated that the tax can be renewed by voters. T-SPLOST is a tax trap that voters will be asked to renew every 10 years. MARTA Chief Executive Beverly Scott warned in September of 2011 that even if T-SPLOST passes, MARTA will still face 2.3 billion dollars in unfunded maintenance needs over the next decade. MARTA has lost 500 million dollars every year for the past few years and is very heavily tax-payer subsidized. T-SPLOST will greatly expand MARTA.
    Tom Weyandt, senior policy advisor for transportation for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed recently stated :
    Boosters of the sales tax often say there is no Plan B if voters reject the sales tax. Weyandt disagreed, and then described the region as it will exist if the sales tax referendum fails.
    “Plan B is a regional shutdown in about a year,” Weyandt said. “MARTA’s backlog of ‘state of good repair’ projects will grow and become more expensive. Clayton won’t get renewed bus service. Cobb and Gwinnett transit will experience cuts in service and fare increases. Intersections won’t be improved. Douglas won’t get it’s highest priority project, (reconstruction of) the I-20/I-285 interchange.”

    If the current mass transit infrastructure is in such dire straights, then it is irresponsible to vote yes on T-SPLOST and significantly expand an infrastructure that is losing at least 500 million dollars per year. Shouldn’t MARTA be bought solvent before it is expanded and shouldn’t users of MARTA be the ones to pay for the bailout and expansion?

    Violates Home Rule – Counties can vote the T-SPLOST down but if the tax passes the collective vote of the counties in the region, your county will be forced to pay the tax. Counties that had already voted no to MARTA years ago will see an expansion of MARTA /mass transit into their counties.

    Inequitable Funding Distribution – Atlanta is a jobs center and should receive a higher percentage of funding distribution per population than other counties but not the large percentage they are receiving under T-SPLOST. According to Baruch Feigenbaum of Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Atlanta should receive 8 -10 % more than their population because of them being a jobs center and other counties should receive 1 -1.6% less. Atlanta receives 268% of the T-SPLOST project funding per population. The chart he provided in a report is below.

    There are projects that will only be started-not completed during this initial 10 year period.

    According to the Atlanta Regional Commission Final Report dated October 15, 2011, “The total value of projects to be delivered through this program is actually higher than the amount of funding anticipated to be generated by the sales tax. That is because GDOT (Georgia Dept. of Transportation) and ARC have supplemented the program with a portion of the regular federal formula funds which the state and region will receive over the ten‐year period. GDOT has committed $693,880,000 and ARC has committed $120,000,000. A resolution passed by the Roundtable related to funding for the GRTA Xpress system requests that ARC give priority to allocating up to an additional $33,000,000 of federal funds for that service in a future update of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Finally, many local governments and project sponsors have proactively expressed their intent to supplemental project costs through the use of other revenue streams. “ (Does this translate to local governments possibly raising taxes and what happens if the money expected from the GDOT and ARC falls short of expectations?)

    Project list includes 52% for mass transit related projects-yet only 3.5 – 5% commuters use mass transit. In MARTA’s 2011 Comprehensive Report, they show that although population has surged in the 10 County Metro Areas, ridership has declined 7% for trains and 23% for buses.

    In a November 21, 2011 opinion article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a former member of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission – Wendell Cox, wrote “A recent Brookings Institution report highlights the scarcity of competitive service. Only 3.4 percent of metropolitan area jobs can be reached by transit in 45 minutes by the average employee. Even the most effective transit systems — New York, San Francisco and Boston — provide access to only around 10 percent of jobs. And, unless transit agencies are permitted to print money, there never will be enough to do much more.” He also stated, “Atlanta is one of only four major metropolitan areas with a one-way work trip travel time of more than 30 minutes. This is primarily the result of metro Atlanta’s less-than-robust freeway system and a low-capacity arterial street system. If Atlanta is to become more competitive, it will be necessary to speed up car travel.”

    INRIX is a private company that tracks traffic information. They released data through April of 2012 that shows that traffic congestion increases commute time by a mere 10 % daily.

    The projects do very little to ease traffic congestions on the interstates. There is over 600 million dollars in the project list for the Atlanta Belt Line project. How do trolley cars ease congestion? “Proponents are campaigning hard. Unfortunately, the plan barely translates into improved regional mobility. Operating in an if-you-build-it-they-will-come fugue, regional leaders allocate more than half the expected funds to expensive transit projects, most of which would not offer congestion relief within 10 years, if ever. ”
    — Benita Dodd, VP, The Georgia Public Policy Foundation

    Reason Foundation released a report in 2003 titled “Density in Atlanta: Implications for Traffic and Transit”. This report analyzed the commute patterns and mass transit in the Metro Atlanta area compared to other regions. The report found that the population density needed to effectively support mass transit expansion in Atlanta is 7800 per square mile. According to the latest estimates, Atlanta only has 4105 population density per square mile. The metro Atlanta area is too spread out for ridership in mass transit to increase enough to be self-supporting and not reliant on tax-payers to subsidize it.
    Reason Foundation issued a report in 2006 that had several viable solutions that could be financed using tolls. They estimate 75% of the costs would be paid for using the toll revenue. We could support initiatives like some these in stages.
    http://reason.org/files/0d642e267c868322f65139ee573965c4.pdf

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      The Reason Foundation also recommended increasing the effectiveness of the freeway system by double-decking the freeways using tolls as financing to separate freeway truck and car traffic and double the carrying capacity of the freeway system.

      If I recall correctly, the Reason Foundation also recommended better funding transportation needs by phasing out the gas tax and moving to a mileage-based user fee which would in effect serve on a toll on each major road as opposed to being dependent upon a gas tax which T-SPLOST proponents claim is increasingly ineffective at funding all of our road needs.

  14. seekingtounderstand says:

    Whoever wrote the TSLPOST wrote it to be milked to the extreme. your vote boils down to do you trust those in power who are sent to cash in?
    Americas number one industry is milking of taxpayers funds………….and Ga excels at it.

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