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TSPLOST deserves a resounding “no” vote from Georgians

TSPLOST deserves a resounding “no” vote from Georgians

By Jason Pye at Peach Pundit

On July 31st, Georgians will not only head to the polls to vote in party primaries, but also to determine the fate of the the TSPLOST, a 1-cent local sales tax dedicated to transportation projects.

This effort isn’t the first attempt at a sales tax to fund transportation improvements and expand mass transit. Back in 2009, then-State Rep. Vance Smith, who would later go on to lead the Georgia Department of Transportation, proposed a 10-year statewide sales tax; which, if passed, would have raised taxes by $22 billion.

Disagreements between House and Senate leaders led to the effort stalling out, killing what easily would have been the largest tax hike in Georgia history. Senate leaders, led by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, preferred a regional approach to the issue. But with new leadership in the House in 2010, the Legislature ironed out a new tax hike proposal, the TSPLOST, a regional penny tax to be presented to voters this year. Assuming all 12 regions pass the referendum later this month, the TSPLOST is projected to bring some $19 billion in new tax revenues to the state. In most regions, the split between regional and local projects will be 75-25. However, in the Metro Atlanta region, 85% of the $7.2 billion in expected revenues will go to regional projects. Fifteen percent will go for local projects. If passed in every region, this would be the largest tax hike in Georgia history.

Advocates of the TSPLOST have spent a substantial sum of money trying to convince Metro Atlanta residents that the tax hike is needed in order to “untie” the region. That may sound like music to the ears of many Metro Atlanta drivers, but this tax hike is still struggling to gain steam despite a bipartisan push from many of Georgia’s most prominent elected officials, including Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Interestingly, the opposition is equally diverse, with the Sierra Club, AFL-CIO, NAACP, and various Tea Party groups all pushing a “no” vote. (Please note that the AFL-CIO is not opposing the TSPLOST)

Supporters of the tax hike are trying to paint its opponents out to be ideologues who are opposed to any tax increase. There is some truth that in some cases, but there is also a practical case to be made against the TSPLOST.

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