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.
August 1, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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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."  

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Published on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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