500 Good Reasons To Trust The T-SPLOST

Some of you have expressed opposition to the upcoming T-SPLOST because you don’t believe that raising sales taxes by 1 percent will solve metro Atlanta’s traffic problems. Well, you doubters need to look at the return on investment the folks at Citizens for Transportation Mobility are getting on the money they’re spending to persuade you to vote yes on the T-SPLOST.

Citizens for Transportation Mobility is a “Ballot Committee,” which means they’re registered with the all-powerful “Georgia Government Transparency and Finance Commission” and are required by that mighty Commission to list all donations and expenditures once they’ve raised or spent more than $500. The ironclad disclosure laws of Georgia say so right here.

CTM has been running a pretty involved campaign to persuade you to vote yes on the tax increase. They’ve hired a professional campaign consultant, sent mailers out, had tele-townhall meetings, printed signs, produced videos and sent out more than 300,000 phone calls. Also, they have a nifty website.  And they’ve done ALL that for less than $500.

No reports filed. Therefore, CTM has not spent more than $500. QED.

Now, if CTM can do all that for less than $500, can you imagine what sort of transportation solutions they can get for $6 BILLION? You think they’ll stop at that silly project list? Pffft. I think every commuter in metro Atlanta is going to get their own jet pack.

 

For this, I will support a tax increase.

 

As a professional campaign consultant myself, I can only stand in awe of a campaign that’s been able to do as much as CTM has for less than $500. It’s sheer magic, and where there’s magic, there are jet packs!

If you hear that some nosy-parker “investigative journalist” is going to start poking around trying to figure out just how CTM can run such a fantastic campaign for less than $500, don’t let them! That could mean a bunch of paperwork an possibly even a stern letter from the omnipotent Georgia Government Transparency and Finance Commission. And if they’re filling out forms, they’re not developing our jet packs!

Let other people worry about disclosure rules. Let’s trust the folks in charge of this campaign. Let’s keep our childlike sense of wonder. Let’s believe in magic.

“Up, Up and Away!”

35 comments

  1. Blake says:

    Wow. A great reason to mistrust the T-SPLOST campaign; another huge reason to keep agitating for effective ethics reform. No point in having a commission if it is unable to do its job.

  2. Consider this:
    They are listed as a “County or Municipal Ballot” Campaign Committee.
    Such a committee is required to file 15 days before the election and for December 31 of the year of the election as long as they have raised or spent at least $500. As such they have filed yet because they wouldn’t be required to yet.
    http://ethics.ga.gov/about-ballot-committees-including-statewirde-referendums/

    If they were a “Constitutional Amendment/ Statewide Referendum Ballot” Campaign Committee, they would have those same requirements as well as 75 days and 45 days before the election (same link).

    I think the real question is, why are they set up as one local ballot committee? They should be either a statewide ballot committee or 159 different local committees.

    There is no provision in state law for regional referendum ballot committees. In fact, state law is pretty vague on ballot campaign committees in general.

      • No, I’m saying that this may be further evidence of the unconstitutionality of a regional referendum.

        If I were working for them, I would have advised that they do the statewide committee filing and not the local committee. To do the local thing would require a separate committee for each ballot (each county) and separate bank accounts for each one.

        I’m not an attorney, but I have read a bunch of stuff on this. Just my opinion, I could be wrong.

        • Calypso says:

          You get a jet pack capable of transporting the both of you providing you utilize the HOV airspace.

          • jesse says:

            Well Dude you better get that backpack if this thing doesn’t pass because you and your children are going to be stuck in traffic for a very long time.

              • jesse says:

                Wow. You are very lucky. You must drive to Alabama everyday. What about the rest of us who are stuck and our kids who will be for the next 50 years if we don’t start doing something right now.

                • Nope. Douglasville to Atlanta. The expected commute is something I took into account when selecting my home. I am surprised more haven’t do so, but that doesn’t make me responsible for their choices.
                  I’m not saying something shouldn’t be done. I just don’t know that this plan is what should be done.
                  I don’t subscribe to the “doing anything is always better than doing nothing” mentality. Sometimes you end up doing the wrong thing.

                  • jesse says:

                    Fair enough, but if we don’t do this now, the second round is going to be a long time coming and who knows what it will look like. Do we really think that putting this thing back in the hands of the Legislature will yeild better results – really? Believe me, if it fails they will monkey with the bill before it comes back to us for another vote. Sort of a scary thought.

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                      Critically-needed improvements to the road network like to I-20/I-285 West and I-285/GA 400 North shouldn’t be sent to the public for a vote.

                      Those are improvements that need to be made no matter what and the legislature should do their jobs and come up with the money for those very necessary improvements to be made.

                      The legislature should not be in the business of punting their constitutional responsibility to maintain the road network off on the voters like a political football simply because they do not want to be bothered with doing the jobs that the voters elected them to do, a very large part of which involves maintaining the roads.

                    • seekingtounderstand says:

                      You mean how the gax tax has been going into the general budget or how Gov. Perdue borrowed so much leaving the DOT in massive debt which left us with the costs of debt plus the loss of Federal Matching dollars for transportation needs………….
                      I would rather them start over than waste more tax dollars on this TSPLOST which is an economic boondoogle with little oversite or safety features protecting the billions of dollars from graft.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                Though I wholeheartedly agree with you that this highly-flawed T-SPLOST is the most likely the absolute wrong way to go about fixing things, I don’t know if I would go as far as saying that we are not stuck in traffic now as I have personally been stuck in severe traffic congestion and even outright gridlock at times on multiple occasions on that I-20 West from I-285 out to Douglasville during both morning and evening rush hours as I used to live in Lithia Springs.

                Heck, I’ve in stuck in traffic multiple times on I-285 Northbound in the left lane trying to exit and transition onto I-20 Westbound during evening rush hour, I’ve been stuck on I-20 West near Six Flags multiple both because there were too many cars on that stretch of undersized road and for something seemingly as innocuous as a light mist and a minorly wet roadway.

                I’ve also been stuck on I-20 West at different times of both day and night (during rush hour and late nights) because of multiple fatal collisions (one of them was a collision that involved four vehicles and a fatality during evening rush hour as I-20 had to be shut down so that a helicopter could land and airlift a couple of the badly-injured survivors of the wreck to the hospital while another was a late-night collision that involved four vehicles and a truck with a fatality and a near fatality while traffic slowly squeeked by just inches away from emergency responders attempted to extract within full view of passing vehicles two occupants of a vehicle that was partially burned and mostly crushed).

                This T-SPLOST is definitely not the best way to go about fixing the roads over the long-term, but let’s not get totally ridiculous, bury our heads in the sand and pretend like everything is A-OK because it definitely is not A-OK when traffic can’t even merge onto I-20 Westbound from I-285 or onto I-285 from I-20 without a great degree of frustration and difficulty while sitting in severe-congested traffic on that undersized and overcapacity stretch of road often surrounded by heavy interstate freight truck traffic as far as the eye can see.

                Now, I don’t know if you use I-20 inbound (Eastbound) during morning rush hours or I-20 outbound (Westbound) during evening rush hours to commute to and from your job, but using the term “relatively easy” to describe rush hour commutes that often peak hour-congested stretch of I-20 is most definitely the exception and not the rule.

                • When I said we are not stuck in traffic now, I meant my son and I.
                  I wasn’t speaking for all commuters heading to Atlanta from Douglas County.
                  I selected my residence so that my commute lets me get on and off I-20 at Fulton Industrial Blvd.
                  My previous residence, selected without full knowledge of the traffic situation, had me getting on and off I-20 at Fairburn Rd., so I am well aware of the choke points at Thronton Road and Six Flags hill.
                  I was not happy with that commute, so I changed where I was living. Granted, it was easier to sell house then than it is now.
                  The irony is that the proposed I-20/I-285 interchange project would actually cause issues for those who enter I-20 heading east at FIB.

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    Even though the I-20/GA 92 interchange was recently reconstructed, the commute to and from I-20 and Fairburn Rd can still be one heck-of-a-bear, especially if there is an accident or the weather is even the slightest bit uncooperative.

                    I haven’t seen the exact plans for the improvements to the I-20/I-285 West interchange, but I do know that interchange has been in desperate need of improvement for at least much of the last two decades with the dangerous left-hand exits and merges and the all-too-short transition ramps and the nearly crushing amount of truck traffic that uses that interchange on a daily basis.

                    Ask almost anyone on this board or this website and they will tell you that I am about as fervently anti T-SPLOST as they come to the point of nearly being sanctioned or banquished from this site, but the proposed reconstruction of the I-20/I-285 West and the GA 400/I-285 North interchanges are likely two of the few projects on the list that I can even remotely tolerate, even though I highly disagree that something as critically-needed as long-overdue freeway interchange reconstruction projects should even be up for a vote.

                    The state is well-aware that those two outdated and obsolete freeway interchanges are in critical need of reconstruction and yet they put them up for a vote on a tax referendum to fund a list that is laced with economic development projects as if their responsibility of routine road maintenance and upkeep is something that is optional.

  3. If the committee never files a campaign contribution disclosure report until after the election, the fine is so small they can easily cover it from their war chest.
    The Georgia Goverment Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (fka State Ethics Commission) has no teeth.

  4. Oathkeeper says:

    Few would argue that Metro-Atlanta does not need traffic congestion relief; however, the percentage of money in T-SPLOST earmarked for projects that are actually directed toward traffic relief is small. Arguing that this is the best we can do is absurd on its face. Georgians DO want to spend less time commuting – that’s why T-SPLOST proponents market the measure in those terms instead of what it is – an economic stimulus for special interests and political cronies. The state won’t have to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to promote a real solution to traffic congestion.

    During Metro-Atlanta’s boom years the development industry became the area’s core economic driver. With no natural boundaries, Atlanta grew in all directions. In general, the further land was from Atlanta city center, the less expensive. Builders and developers could offer home buyers much more house for the money if they were willing to commute a little further. As Atlanta grew because it was less costly to develop on the sprawl model rather than upon an expanding road grid Atlanta commuters are now constrained to far too few arteries and connectors. Shoring up a few intersections and spending billions on trains that will have to be subsidized with tax dollars ad infinitum is not a fix.

    Before Georgians let politicians who owe their souls to big developers put us back on the fast growth merry-go-round, Metro-Atlanta needs real solutions for three overriding challenges: water, traffic and sustainable economic drivers. T-SPLOST solves none of those – in fact it would only put real solutions further out of reach.

  5. NoTeabagging says:

    Georgia Government Transparency and Finance Commission. Name should change to read:
    Georgia Government Invisibility and Finance Commission.

  6. ArtfulDodger says:

    Oathkeeper, Lots of crticism not one bit of suggestion as to what you think is the solution. It’s easy to criticize. Try offering solutions. You have a good grasp of what caused the problem. Do you have any ideas on how to start correcting it?
    You are also right in that the TIA will raise only a small amount of what will be needed to fix the problems. That is its biggest flaw. The most recent estimate is we need $160B over the next 20-30 years to begin addressing our transportation problems. If people think that the TIA will fix all our problems by raising enough money to fix them they have a real surprise coming in the next few years as the problems get worse. Then there is the water issue as you mention. Sustainable economic drivers are both a good transportation system in the region and the state which the TIA purports to address and a sustainable wate supply which is also a work in progress.

    • Harry says:

      Maybe you have a bit of a suggestion as to how normal people can afford higher taxes just to rearrange the deck chairs.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      You want a suggestion to go with some constructive criticism? Try this: Abolish the gas tax for all Georgia drivers and vehicles and then raise the gas tax, which would then only be paid by out-of-state motorists who are responsible for a significant amount of wear-and-tear on the roads (especially the Interstate System, which carries an exceptional amount of heavy traffic through the State of Georgia), so that it is one of the highest in the union.

      In lieu of collecting gas taxes from Georgia motorists, the state would instead collect distance-based user fees every time that a Georgia motorist drives on a major road so that each individual major road collects its own maintenance and upkeep revenues every time that it is used.

      By abolishing the gas tax for all Georgia motorists and collecting revenues from distance-based user fees, while still collecting a much higher gas tax on all out-of-state motorists, the state would come out ahead of the curve on road maintenance funding.

      Also by funding the road network with distance-based user fees, those who use the roads the most would pay the most while those who use the road network the least would pay the least.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Distance-based user fees can also be used to fund improvements, upgrades and expansions to our currently-lacking transit network.

      Abolish the politically-contentious 1% sales tax that is levied in Fulton and DeKalb counties to fund MARTA and switch to a combination of utilizing distance-based user fees in the form of distance-based and zone fares and public-private partnerships to finance rail and bus transit lines and corridors, thereby making each major rail transit and bus transit line capable of funding its own initial construction and continued operation, maintenance and expansion if needed.

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