Atlanta Rejects Transpo Tax

Voters in the Atlanta metro area overwhelmingly rejected a 1% sales tax increase to fund $7.2 billion in transportation improvements. The result is being framed as a victory for anti-government Tea Party allies and a loss for the region's economy.

The decisive failure of the referendum (63% opposed), which would have funded "a $6.14 billion list of 157 regional projects - relieving congestion at key Interstate highway chokepoints and opening 29 miles of new rail track to passengers, among others - as well as $1 billion worth of smaller local projects," was "fueled by citizens' distrust of government and the metro area's splintered transportation desires," writes Ariel Hart. 

"'It's heartbreaking,' said Ashley Robbins, president of Citizens for Progressive Transit, one of dozens of organizations that worked for the referendum. She predicted a loss of valuable young workers to the region's economy. 'If Atlanta's not the region that we want, the young energetic people that drove these campaigns are going to leave.'"

Of course, the majority of voters applauded the result. Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Craig Schneider saw the defeat of the referendum as "a big win for the Georgia tea party, whose leaders didn't shy away Tuesday night from claiming giant-slayer status."

According to Bob Grafstein, assistant dean of the University of Georgia's school of public and international affairs, the results, "make [the tea party] look like people protecting the average citizen from the rapacious government." 

Rounding out AJC's coverage, Jim Galloway charts the course forward for efforts to improve "the mess that is Georgia's system of planning and paying for moving goods and people." According to Galloway, the ball will now bounce to Gov. Nathan Deal's court.

"What voters dismissed was a bottom-up list of $8 billion in road and rail projects created by local elected leaders. The Plan B that staggered out of the governor's office will be its polar opposite: Dramatically smaller, paid for with shrinking funds, and highly centralized. Projects will be hand-picked by a governor who intends to squeeze every penny available."  

Full Story: Voters reject transportation tax



Irvin Dawid's picture

Wow! What a setback!

I'll be looking for the 'lessons learned'!

As previously indicated, there were 12 T-SPLOST Referendums in the state on Tuesday. The best got 48% of the vote.
Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

Irvin Dawid's picture

T-SPLOST Update: THREE Victories

(12) TSPLOST Referendums - Ballot Issues, August 02, 2012 -Updates

Referendum - 7- Central Savannah River, 54%
Referendum - 8- River Valley, 54%
Referendum- 9-Heart of Georgia, 52%

For a more detailed, colorful map, see Regional Transportation Vote. I believe the website may be loosely connected with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).

Per Tom Rubin, transportation consultant, these are primarily road taxes.

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

Michael Lewyn's picture

Lesson learned

The Sierra Club opposed the sales tax because of all the road projects, and some people who like roads probably voted no because of the transit projects. So one lesson is: the road lobby can't win when it faces (1) a united anti-tax opposition AND (2) a divided urban pro-transit community.

To put it another way, transportation issues now involve 3 players: (1) the road coalition, (2) the transit/environmental conclusion and (3) anti-tax conservatives. No one player can win alone, but but one player PLUS parts of the other groups can win. So here, only group 3 was 100 percent against the referendum, but they were able to cut into groups 1 and 2.

By contrast, at the federal level group 3 was pretty much isolated by groups 1 and 2, and so transportation funding was reauthorized at current levels.

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