We’ve received the following from State Rep. Ed Lindsey, (R-Historic Brookhaven) in which he seeks your “constructive suggestions” on the traffic issue. This is an opportunity to offer feedback to a legislative leader in Georgia, and we welcome your comments. In the interest of improving the quality of public debate, we ask that you a) stay on topic and b) avoid gloating, name-calling and blame placing.
On Tuesday, Metro Atlanta voters – including many of those that post on this
blog — overwhelmingly voted down the T-SPLOST referendum. The purpose of my
post here is to consider some of the reasons why and ask for your input on where
we go from here.
Let me first start off by categorizing the main reasons the opponents gave me
over the past few weeks in correspondence for why they voted against the
referendum and provide a few example quotes from several of them to illustrate
their reasons for voting no. As you can see, there were a lot of different –
and a few seemingly conflicting — reasons given on the issues involved and one
dramatic overarching concern of just about everyone:
Transit – some said too much, others thought not enough.
“I will not vote for a tax increase, particularly because spending over 50% of
the proposed revenue on mass transit in the world’s least dense city makes
zero sense to me.”
“I oppose the T-SPLOST because its $6.2 billion spending package doesn’t
include enough rail.”
Fulton, DeKalb, the City of Atlanta, and MARTA – some said too much, others
argued not enough.
“You can’t use those of us in Cobb and Gwinnett to bail out MARTA!”
“Atlanta is getting too much of our money already. You are not tricking us
into getting any more!”
“When the State takes over Grady and the 10 county region starts paying for
MARTA AND we get a reprieve from the 1% tax Fulton and DeKalb have been paying,
then, and only then, I might [consider voting for the T-SPLOST].”
Government urging/coercing changes in people’s behavior – once again, either
too much or not nearly enough.
“The project list is too heavily focused on sprawl-inducing road expansion,
among other concerns, and will have a net negative impact from an environmental
“The only real solution in the mega-cities is to reduce daily commute
distances by living close to work and school and shopping locally.”
“The light-rail and streetcars, and Beltline, are all wasteful nonsense and
leftist fantasies. People want the freedom to get there in their cars.”
Distrust in Government – the one overarching critical area among dissenters
that was universal.
“I will long remember this as it again burdens us for nothing but
politicians’ pockets and their donors’ pockets.”
“T-SPLOST is horrid legislation, a 10-year boondoggle for contractors that
will inevitably lead to further taxes, overruns, corrupt waste, and a failure to
fix our roads and congestion.”
“This is a slush fund that will lead to huge waste and not help solve traffic
“I do not trust the politicians and their support of this tax and projects. I
base this on the continued toll on GA 400 that was promised to stop but did
“I am near destroyed each year at tax time-almost like I do not own my
house—Fulton and Atlanta taxes are confiscatory—not one penny more—you are
on the wrong side of this one.”
“[I] oppose this referendum because it is unfair, short-sighted, racist and
What now? Yesterday’s vote is now behind us. Many of us supported the T-SPLOST
but tens of thousands more opposed it. Nevertheless, our transportation problems
have not and will not magically disappear, and most people on both sides of
yesterday’s vote understand this reality and the seriousness of the crisis we
Urban areas – even historically great ones like Metro Atlanta – are
perpetually either in a period of growth and greater prosperity or steady
decline. There is no standing still. We either attack our problems head on and
make a better future for ourselves and our children today, or we sit back and
watch our past successes slip away into the history books.
Metro Atlanta commuters have one of the worst commutes in the nation. This
translates into more time in our cars and less time for work, home, and play. It
also wastes on average in fuel for each of us over $900 per year sitting in
traffic. Atlanta is ranked 91st out of 100 among major metro regions for access
to transit. Major business prospects rank our transportation difficulties as one
of their major concerns about relocating here, and our inability to address this
problem will only further aggravate their concerns.
To many folks surprise when they look at the data closely, we are not
spendthrifts in the State of Georgia. We rank 49th in the nation in overall per
capita state spending, and have one of the lowest overall tax rates on the
state level in the country (45th). Over the past four years, we have further
reduced our state spending by billions of dollars since the beginning of the
Great Recession. These facts demonstrate our fiscal conservatism and are
responsible for us having a very rare AAA state bond rating (higher than the
federal government). Nevertheless, we must understand that while government
cannot and should not ever be involved in everything, transportation – along
with education and public safety – is an area where government needs to roll
up its sleeves and get it right.
Therefore, there is no time to mourn or celebrate about what happened on Tuesday
regardless of which side you were on. Both sides of the debate now need to focus
on where we go from here.
Policymakers like myself need to hear from you. So start communicating. Today is
for you to talk and for policymakers to listen. How do we overcome the extreme
mistrust that divides us and what solutions do you suggest we implement for us
to fix this traffic noose around our necks?
Tomorrow, you and I must answer this question and start moving forward again
together. I and others look forward to your constructive suggestions.
State Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
Georgia House Majority Whip