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Why I Am Voting NO on TSPLOST

I am voting ‘NO’ on TSPLOST. Here are my top nine reasons - not numbers and project lists, but simple reasons that are tough to refute.

The upcoming is of vital interest to all of us who live and work in Georgia.  In fact, many of the reasons I will be voting "no" on the July 31 TSPLOST vote are the same ones that prompted my run for Congress in the first place.  I hope you find some of this information useful as you talk with voters leading up to the election.

1 - I decided long ago I would never vote for a tax increase on myself.  I have to live with my representatives raising taxes, but I don’t have to do it for them.

2 - TSPLOST is NOT a 1 percent tax increase.  Much of the "pro" literature has lines like “a 1 penny increase” or “a 1 percent tax” or “raise the sales tax by 1 percent.”  These are misleading at best.  The sales tax where I live is 6 percent. Raising it to 7 percent is a almost a 17 percent increase in the tax I will be paying.

3 - As I read the project list, my region will be paying over $470 million to perform maintenance on MARTA, which has losses of about $500 million per year.  If MARTA is losing this much money without paying maintenance, imagine what the loss would be if this was added.  How will they maintain their system in the future, especially if the service is expanded?

4 - We have good reason not to trust them.  One example - Governor Deal campaigned on removing the 400 toll.  You may not remember, but in 2011 he did just that -- then instituted a ‘new’ toll a few days later.  He actually made a statement at the time that he was glad to be able to keep the promise of removing the toll once the road was paid for.  This would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

5 - Pushing the vote off to the citizens is an abdication of representative government.  If elected officials decide more money needs to be spent on transportation projects then raise taxes or cut spending to pay for it and suffer the consequences.  Don’t avoid all the hard decisions.

6 - Money is fungible - there is no difference between one dollar and any other.  Raising taxes for transportation projects simply frees up money for other programs.  Providing roads, bridges, etc. is something tax dollars are designed for. Now the government wants to keep the same income they had last year but not have to pay for all these projects.  It seems to me that if we are pulling all these transportation projects out of their budget they should lower our taxes.

7 - New technology.  I worked for a traffic engineering firm for almost 10 years and I saw what could be done to greatly reduce congestion by simply coordinating traffic signals with no changes to the roads.  We are now on the verge of new technologies that will have a similar impact, from things as groundbreaking as the driverless car to things as simple as telecommuting.  These advances will allow us to get more throughput from our existing infrastructure.

8 - What else could we do with $18 billion?  Adam Goldfein, who has a collection of articles about TSPLOST has written a very interesting financial article about the projects on the list.  If the goal of TSPLOST is to make Atlanta more competitive with other big cities, what if we instead purchased and launched seven space shuttles?  Or 18 quality pro football teams?  We could put up four Freedom Towers, or even build the tallest building in the world (certainly an attraction) and have enough money left over to build four amusement parks the size of Disneyland Hong Kong.  Thinking bigger, we could buy almost 10 percent of South Carolina.  Or, if you really want to reduce traffic, we could buy 180,000 jetpacks which, you have to admit, would be way cooler.

9 - I am also suspicions about the fact that about 17 percent of the money goes to cities and counties to, essentially, spend as they wish.Some have projects ready but most do not.  I fear this money was promised to ensure their support.

After doing my research, these are my top nine reasons for a "no" vote on July 31. I hope that you will consider what is going on here and make the right choice.

For your reference, here is a really good map of the regions: Region Map

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Scott Ehly July 23, 2012 at 09:15 PM
(cont...) Perhaps you would understand this better if I explained it in terms of that penny to which you referred (“one percent sales tax”). If my tax is a penny and you raise it by a penny, you’ve doubled my taxes. Those of us who pay attention to the amount of money taken from us annually in the form of taxes will notice that this means $2000/year would become $4000/year; $10,000 would become $20,000/year. We would also say you are “mistaken” if you refer to this radically different perspective on a penny as merely a matter of semantics. 3. Again, your assertions are speculative. 4. I’ll defer to Mr. Hancock’s rebuttal for this one. 5. It fascinates me that I seldom hear anyone address this absurdity head on. We are not voting against improving the transportation system. That would be like voting against having a sharp stick removed from one’s eye. We’re simply not that stupid. We’re voting against a tax increase; pure and simple. I for one will never vote for anything that even implies an increase in tax. Balance your budget or re-address your priorities but I’m giving plenty. 6-9. Enough has already been said.
Scott Ehly July 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM
What?! Atlanta needs jobs?! What?! Supporting T-SPLOST simply on the grounds that it will provide jobs is making a game out of a serious matter. We’re not talking about little league baseball where you tell your child “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose as long as you did your best and had fun”. This is millions of dollars we’re discussing and it DOES matter if you we actually ‘win’. Talking about this in terms of how many jobs is creates smacks of something 2nd grade teachers used to call “busy work”; handing out mimeographed coloring books or find-the-word puzzles to keep the class occupied when a lesson plan failed to cover a full day. How ‘bout we let Atlanta’s citizens keep some of their money and spend it as the see fit. Then we can let the free market create real jobs producing things that people actually want and need. Companies follow the money. Don’t you think they would relocate with every bit the same enthusiasm to a city where the people are spending money as to a place where the local government is spending money?
Jimmy Orr July 24, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Once again, David, great article. By now I expect most readers of Dacula Patch know that I am adamantly OPPOSED to TSPLOST. I started tracking this financial albatross back in April of 2008 when the ARC's Transit Planning Board was peddling their 2008 Concept Plan 3 Regional Transit Vision. The rail transit proposed on the 2008 Comcept Plan 3 very closely mirrors the rail transit projects which are on the 2012 TSPLOST constrained projects list. The bottom line is that TSPLOST is a bailout for MARTA and the City of Atlanta which has, in my opinion, become the cesspool of the South. Why? Its schools are broke, its sewers are broke, its water rates, in all probabilty, are among the highest in the nation, and crime appears to be rampant. It is a disgrace when students on the campus of one of the top institutions of technology in America want permission to carry firearms on campus for self protection not to mention that a recent article in the news media has the new CEO, General manager, or whatever, of Atlantic Station stating something something to the effect about crime around that crown jewel. Vote NO to TSPLOST. You won't go wrong.
Joe July 25, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Vote "NO" July 31 and say "NO" to jobs. Everyone know that Obama is the only person who can create jobs, who are we to come up with a plan that would work? Let's just ask the federal government for money to maintain our roads, there's no waste there. What could possibly be more efficient than getting transportation funding from the federal government? The 15-20 year plan for projects seems to be very efficient.
Dave M July 29, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I voted NO. The HOT lanes for me is a constant reminder of the bad decisions these folks make....

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