And the war of T-SPLOST words is heaing up.
Debbie Dooley and Julianne Thompson weigh in on behalf of the TEA Party Patriots weigh in as the now defacto voice of opposition to the tax, while CTM a/k/a Untie Atlanta uses Dooley’s suggested Plan B for an increase in gas taxes against the opposition. We’ll post them in that order, and then let frequent commenter Last Democrat In Georgia have a long conversation with his or her self:
TSPLOST – THE UNFAIR TAX
Tea Party Leaders Blast Pro-T-SPLOST Campaign As Being Promoted On Falsehoods
Atlanta, GA – Atlanta Tea Party Leaders Debbie Dooley and Julianne Thompson blast the pro-T-SPLOST campaign as being deceptive to metro-Atlanta voters.
Thompson stated, “Citizens for Transportation Mobility, the high dollar public relations arm of the pro-T-SPLOST political campaign has shown in their recent attacks that they are worried and desperate. Recent polls show that voters are becoming more educated on this tax, and that this referendum is going to fail. A new Insider Advantage Poll shows 47% voting against it, and only 32% favorable to the tax. In addition, the poor public relations strategy for this tax has been built on false promises to the public, which are being brought to light.”
She continued, “The Atlanta Tea Party has always supported tax reform, with the vast majority of our activists supporting a consumption tax over what is currently in place. Both Debbie and I have stated on multiple occasions that that infrastructure improvements and traffic relief must be addressed, however, the project list created by regional roundtable does nothing to relieve traffic congestion. It does nothing to bring in new jobs. It does two things: It creates the largest tax increase in Georgia history, and it creates a bailout for a failing MARTA. This project list is fiscal irresponsibility at it’s worst.”
The Tea Party leaders point to a recent study by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation that states, “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. ”
On April 16, 2012, the Atlanta Journal Constitution released Politifact’s Truth-O-Meter found Atlanta Regional Commission’s claim of T-SPLOST creating or supporting an additional 200,000 jobs mostly false.
Dooley stated, “Although we support a consumption-based approach, we have made it clear repeatedly that until elected officials earn our trust by showing they are fiscally responsible with the tax dollars they have now, they should not be given more. Elected officials must prove they have made cuts in other areas such as cutting all tax-payer funding to build a new, nearly half a billion dollar stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, and other such government waste. The impulse should be to cut in others areas in order to fund projects that are high priority.”
Dooley continued, “The Atlanta Tea Party believes that users of roadways or mass transit should be the ones to pay for maintenance, expansion and upgrades. In other words, a consumption based tax that would only impact users of roadways. T-SPLOST does the opposite. It takes the majority of the tax revenue to fund mass transit-related projects which will be used by less that 5% of the people paying the tax.”
“During these tough economic times, people can barely make ends meet. The damage this tax will do is far reaching”, said Dooley.
Both Thompson and Dooley stated, “Many people do not realize that T-SPLOST will also tax food and prescription drugs. And for single mothers trying to put food on the table and for senior citizens barely able to make ends meet, this is a travesty.”
Thompson added, “The negative economic impact for the taxpayers will be significant, as there is no funding in place for the long-term maintenance of the projects. Be certain that this T-SPLOST will be merely the first in a long line of taxes imposed on the citizens of metro-Atlanta under the false premise of economic development. Add to that the new tax on food and prescription drugs this would create and it is easy to see that T-SPLOST is truly the UNFAIR Tax.”
And for MAVEN’s shot back at Dooley:
Tea Party leader wants gas taxes raised
Dooley publicly supports a never-ending tax with less public accountability
ATLANTA, June 13, 2012 –National coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots Debbie Dooley endorsed raising gasoline taxes this week, which would result in a never-ending tax hike with no specified project list and no citizen oversight committee regularly reporting on how the tax receipts are being used.
Speaking at a forum on the upcoming Regional Transportation Referendum hosted by the Civic League for Regional Atlanta, Dooley supported raising gas taxes while at the same time being critical of the Department of Transportation for management of current gas taxes.
“We support increasing the gas tax, which has not been done since 1991,” Dooley said at the forum, which was first reported by the Saporta Report. “There are other service fees. Telecommuting, which could be encouraged via tax credits. We could have van pools set up, like Microsoft did in Redmond, Wa. …There are a lot of solutions and alternatives we would recommend.”
Unlike the July 31 transportation referendum, raising the gas tax would be a permanent tax increase with no specific sunset date. In addition, higher gas taxes would go into the general transportation budget instead of citizens being able to specifically vote on what projects will be funded. This would lead to taxes collected in one region being available to be spent around the state rather than the money staying in the region where it is raised. The referendum also calls for a five-member citizen oversight panel that will file yearly audits on the progress of the projects funded. Raising the gas tax would not result in this level of citizen oversight and accountability.
This follows previous Tea Party comments supporting more toll roads in the region. Julianne Thompson, another leader in the Tea Party Patriots movement, pressed for more tolling when appearing on a panel hosted by Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We have been waiting on the opposition to come up with their ‘Plan B’ and we now see that they want to build more toll roads, raise gas taxes and take away the power of citizens to vote on a specific project list,” said Che Watkins, campaign manager for the advocacy group Citizens for Transportation Mobility. “We are frankly shocked that a Tea Party leader would advocate for higher permanent taxes with less public accountability.”
While the per-gallon excise tax on gas has not been raised in decades, the per dollar sales tax on gas rises and falls every six months based on the average price of gas. On Friday, Governor Nathan Deal halted a scheduled increase in the gas tax because of drivers’ frustration with high gas prices. The gas tax Dooley wants to raise would need to be increased by 25 cents per gallon to raise an equivalent amount of funds for transportation as the July 31 referendum will raise.
Also, Dooley advocated for telecommuting tax credits and van pools, which have been available in the Metro Atlanta region for years. While these programs are worthy and should be continued, they are not new ideas and cannot be counted on by themselves to solve Metro Atlanta’s traffic congestion.