TSPLOST Advocates Defy Reality and Reason

TSPLOST advocates are doing and saying everything possible to get you to vote for the tax. The Chambers of Commerce and ARC are destroying their credibility in the process.

Last Thursday AJC editor Kevin Riley moderated a one-hour TSPLOST discussion with Commissioner Steve Brown, Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, GA Public Policy Adjunct Scholar Baruch Feigenbaum and Brookings Visiting Fellow Christopher Leinberger.

Bottom line up front: Steve and Baruch dominated the hour with facts, reason, and open questions that the TSPLOST supporters couldn't respond to. Near the beginning, AJC editor Riley looked over and said, "Well it looks like Steve Brown brought his facts again."

The predominant arguments by Bucky and Chris for the tax:
- It took a long time to get the law passed
- It's the first time all ten counties agreed on a large project
- Atlanta will go into an economic death spiral if the referendum isn't passed
- We've got to something
- We have to pass it to show Washington D.C. we're serious about getting matching money
- We have to show everyone else we're competitive with Charlotte, Houston, etc.
- "Hope and change"
- Clark Howard said we should (yes, Bucky literally used this as his summary

Bucky and Chris could not answer Steve's question, "How are we going to afford the recurring costs, especially after the 10 year tax ends?"

Chris alluded to the race issue at one point.

In the same week, CNBC released the results of a new survey of cities that ranks Georgia third in the country in infrastructure and first in workforce. Does this really look like an "economic death spiral"?

Folks, in my 48 years in Atlanta I have never seen such a ridiculous, beyond-all-reason attempt to extort money from us. 

Please help vote down the TSPLOST.

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Melinda Paris July 23, 2012 at 05:26 AM
When our elective officials get real and make suggestions that can work, then its just another joke, and one way I know its a joke, we're having a special election to vote ourselves a special tax on a year that we will have a NATIONAL election in November, look at how much this joke is costing us as taxpayers! They could have waited four more months, but no...let's spend some more tax money in a irresponsible way, this is ridicilous having a special vote in an election year--so there you go, its crap even before the vote happens! VOTE NO TO THE LIES!! NO MORE LIES, NO MORE TAXES, NO MORE LIES, NO MORE TAXES!!! NO SPECIAL ELECTIONS TO USE OUR TAX PAYER DOLLARS UP! NOT WARRANTED AT ALL.
HARRY C SILVIS July 23, 2012 at 10:06 AM
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING ???? Roads are and should be paid for with use taxes from gasoline, the American way for decades !!! We have the lowest taxes on gasoline in the country, yet our cost at the pumps is very similar to that of the neighboring states. cobb county wants to use this tax money for lites and a new tower at McCollum field. The new bridge in Kennesawe over CSX tracks, should be paid for by them, not us. I did not see anything to really help us. With fanfare the 2 mile "Big Shanty" connector is a road from nowhere to nowhere. A $ 26,000,00. project that now directly connects KSU to the girls soccar stadium. It can now be added on to so it will meet the NCAA requirements for division 1 football. Thus far a $ 46,000,000. project. VOTe early !!! Vote ofte, it is the Georgia way.
Frank P July 23, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Yes, most major Metros have train systems. That's because people live downtown and everything happens downtown. Several times I took MARTA to the airport, only to come back on a late flight and find MARTA was down for repairs. After a few $60 cab rides home, I now drive. And "personal sacrifice" for the greater good? What are you, a politician? Sounds like you chose smartly to live where you live..what sacrifice? Maybe those who DO use MARTA should be taxed higher, and let the rest of us keep our tax money to fix the roads where we live. When we have another internet boom or the like, then we can talk about massive construction projects. Right now, it's patch and maintain
Frank P July 23, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Wow..a real sheeple! FREE MONEY? what, does it grow on trees? What about all the taxes YOU ALREAY PAY!! why aren't they paying for the "brand new school facilities"? What are school taxes for? How about asking for a reduction in school board parasites..uh, bureaucrats, instead of gladly bending over for more taxes. I want accountability. HOW is my tax money spent. When they show me how fraud and waste has been reduced, only then will I CONSIDER a special assessment.
Frank P July 23, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Ever hear "the Buck Stops Here"? "here" is the voting booth. And unfortunately, most potential voters are a bunch of ignorant lazy bums. Ignorant, because they don't read anything for themselves..they expect their favorite Anchorman to chew it up and place it on a silver platter. And lazy, because they leave it to the elected official to make the hard decisions for them. But heaven forbid a few of us stand up and raise hell! we're labeled as troublemakers, tea-baggers or whatever. We OWN the ogvenrment..we ARE the government. And we need to start getting involved. Like buying a sandwich shop and leaving it to a pimply teen-aged kid to run..then the following month you drive by and find you're out of business. You HAVE TO GET INVOLVED!
Phil McCall July 23, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Mr. Silvis - Although we agree on major details, for correction Georgia does not come close to being the lowest tax in the Country. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_taxes_in_the_United_States for an approximation for comparison. The point missed about TSPLOST and fuel tax is the ARC web site shows one of the ways the State will contribute its billions required to construct the projects is to raise the existing fuel taxes even higher. Not only will the State be expected to contribute billions, TSPLOST also depends on the Federal highway taxes to pay for about 30% of the total cost of Statewide TSPLOST. The one penny on the dollar for all purchases in ARC is only the tip of the tax iceberg - we should not be deceived by the $8 million ad campaign to convince us perpetual taxation is good for us. Anyone doubting the info can verify the info by going to the ARC site and reading the details http://www.atlantaregional.com/transportation/transportation-improvement-program. The ARC site by itself is damning to the pro-TSPLOST arguments.
Sue Taylor July 23, 2012 at 04:01 PM
"So why is more than half of TSPLOT going to mass transit when our roads are clogged". ... because... our roads are clogged. The psyche of the average driver is very tough to break through. Many big cities and outer cities and towns are connected by rail. The driver needs to be open and prepared to use trains. We are too attached to our cars. We need to think about the long term future and not about the next few years. We also need to get the current vision of MARTA out of our heads too, Mass transit would be completely different, and I have never heard of this mode of transport bringing undesirables. Who ever came up with that?!! If ever there was a splost I would support, and I get sick of them to, especially education ones...it's this the one.
Frank P July 23, 2012 at 04:21 PM
"We are too attached to our cars"..not out of preference, but because rail does not lend itself to the geography. I live in Duluth and work near Perimeter mall. Where's the MARTA Train for that? All the lines go into downtown. I've taken MARTA for events, and used to for the airport until I got stuck too many times after a late flight where MARTA decided to close for maintenance. But while I embrace my freedom with my car, I have to also accept the fact that there will be traffic as others accept the freedom too. Want to fix traffic issues? TRAIN PEOPLE TO DRIVE!!! Make getting a license difficult. Drill into people's heads that farding* and reading novels is NOT driving. Congestion happens because people sit at traffic lights yapping on their phones or picking up french fries from the floor, instead of paying attention to he light changing green. Teach people that parking yourself in the middle of an intersection is not your "right" just because the guy in front of you didn't move far enough when the light changed. And spend money on signage. With all the non-residents passing through, it would be helpful (and ease congestion) if people knew with plenty of lead time where they are going to turn. May streets don't have easily visbile signs. Also, while I am not usually in favor of more laws, I will support one that REQUIRES all buildings on major streets to prominently display the address number on the building. * (applying makeup)
Phil McCall July 23, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Mr. Evelyn - My facts are correct and by linking as I did there is no misconstruing or hiding facts on my part. See HB 277. To make things easy, for readers I've linked to the State of Georgia's guide to the legislation that created TSPLOST; http://www.dot.state.ga.us/localgovernment/FundingPrograms/transreferendum/Pages/default.aspx under the title of "HB 277 Breakdown by Section" page 27. Also, please review the link in my earlier note and review "Other Recognized Projects (ORP) Lists". The ORP list is incomplete as local govt.s have not completed their list regarding how they plan to spend their 15% or 25% [depending formula explained in HB 277] as some local govts. are not counting their chickens until they hatch. You will note Cherokee County has not submitted anything for publication on the list. I stand by my statements based on the ARC TIP, and HB 277 links.
SOGTP July 23, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Phil - you can't look at that. You must look at the final project list. You can't do any projects that are not on that list. Otherwise you will not have enough money to do the projects listed and approved.
Iryna July 25, 2012 at 03:15 AM
The way MARTA is at the moment ridership will always be on a low level. Rail coverage is very limited and bus frequency is low. I would love to use public transportation to commute to work (and reduce congestion on the roads). Even if it would take 15-20 min more. But if it takes almost an hour more - that's not an option. I wish TSPLOST monies would go to extending public transportation infracstructure.
Truthseeker July 25, 2012 at 08:15 AM
Just wondering, has Untie Atlanta/ Citizens for Transportation Mobility complied with state law yet by filing the required disclosures?
Beau Grant July 30, 2012 at 03:03 AM
I am keeping notes on all of the Officials Attending The Transportation Town Hall Meeting tomorrow night at 5-7pm in the Old Decatur Court house. And will be slating them to be voted against at their next election. These people have joined forces with those who are trying to buy our vote. Why else would they raise $8m to date to send out superficial flyers and Say Nothing Vote Yes Signs all over the State? Visit Jason Carter's website and go to events for a complete list of all the elected officials attending. It is a Who's Who of Mayors, Senator's, Reps, etc etc etc. Track the ones in your district and make sure they lose their seat next time around.
Truthseeker July 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Their campaign coffers next time around will be filled with donations (taxpayer money) from those same large construction companies and those benefiting from taxpayer funds. It's not unlike other illegal organizations who launder money, mafia, drug cartels and politicians.
Melinda Paris July 30, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Folks, Please don't drink the kool-Aid...If we can ONCE VOTE DOWN this robbery without a gun tax..then maybe the officials will get it, which is simply: We are tired of being told what a another penny tax will get us, and THEN IT NEVER HAPPENS! I'm sick and tired of the lies, so I still say GET RID OF THE WASTE, AND THERE WILL BE THE FUNDS YOU NEED TO JUMP START THE PROJECTS, AND MAYBE THEN, We'll all jump on the band wagon to finish it up! They NEVER even start most projects when they need more $$$$$$...and I'M MORE FURIOUS ABOUT A SPECIAL ELECTION ON AN ELECTION YEAR, WE could have voted on this in NOVEMBER--SO for those that love this, LOOK AT WHAT THIS SPECIAL ELECTION IS COSTING US TAX PAYERS!! THAT IS WASTE RIGHT UP FRONT, FOLKS!!! I'M TALKING WAITING FOUR MONTHS! This is ANOTHER REASON, I will vote NO!!! Wasting our tax dollars on a special election, What is it some of you are missing?? VOTE NO--Show them we're tired of this nonsense!! Curb the spending, CUT THE WASTE, GET RID OF SOME OF THE GOV'T SUCKERS ON ALL LEVELS!! I'll just sit in traffic and gripe some more, the tax will not help at this point! NEVER VOTE YOURSELF A TAX! That's just dumb, the officials will always find a way to tax us more, by increasing milleage rates, or property tax, it just never ends! VOTE NO TO MORE TAXES ON 31 JULY!
Melinda Paris July 30, 2012 at 04:21 PM
BTW...The news media says the average family will spend at least 50.00 per month on the new tax, add that up--and our unemployment in this state still hovering around 9-10%...So, how does that work for those folks? I know they can find millions just like Atlanta City Jail in the last two weeks...Someone had been putting money in accounts that an audit just checked out, and there is millions, well, there is millions laying around this state too..Don't believe it, ride around, and look at all the Gov't cars that are provided with gas CARDS to boot! WHY? No one rides me around with a gas card that the tax payers money..How many millions do you all think we could save by taking all State paid cars away and gas cards?? OH, and watch some of the road crews, there will be two working, and TEN watching. You know what I do??? Stop and ask them to get to work,cause they are on my dollar, if you don't, then that's fine, I remind them everytime I see them loavering on the job, if you knew me, you would know I'm serious. I'm not rude, but I'm firm--and if they don't, I take names- what's wrong with that? i WORK 50-60 HOURS a week trying to keep our family ahead of the bills, and I don't have any problems asking a state paid employee that is standing around playing pocket pool to please get to work. Its time WE, THE GOV'T get serious, if we don't sound the bell now, who will? How will our kids/grandkids pay for all this crap?? Let's clean out the liars!
Drewboo July 30, 2012 at 04:28 PM
You are citing "the news media" - I wonder if you will cite "the internet" in future arguments.
Frank Jones July 30, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Melinda reports that the average family will pay $50/month or $600 per year in additional taxes. So how does this play out with different income families? A family of four making $100,000 would normally pay around $4,400 in state income tax. Include this extra $600, and they'd pay around $5,000 which is a 13% tax increase. A family of four making $500,000 would normally pay around $28,400 in state income tax. Include this extra $600, and they'd pay around $28,800 which is a 2% tax increase. For all of the naysayers, this example shows the regressive nature of sales tax vs. income tax. Sales tax taxes the poor(er) more than the rich(er).
Drewboo July 30, 2012 at 06:15 PM
This "math" is extremely flawed. A household income of 100,000 is going to spend more money on buying things, than a household income of 25,000 - therefore, the 100,000 household is going to pay more sales taxes than the 25,000 family. They are not going to both pay $600 in sales taxes. Also, any middle school student can figure out that paying $600 in penny sales taxes = spending $60,000. So my question is how on earth does a family income of $25,000 a year end up spending $60,000 on random stuff? Applying a "news media" average to every person and then doing some fake math is not a valid argument. Anyone who is spending $60,000 a year on stuff either has the money or the credit to do so. BTW, 100,000 household income is not "poor" by any standard.
Melinda Paris July 30, 2012 at 07:11 PM
You guys can pick at anything or everything, it doesn't matter. LOCAL NEWS, Channel Fox 5 is the ones that made that statement on their news cast...I haven't sit down and figured out how much MORE it will cost me personally. However, ONE DOLLAR is too much with the waste that is going on in this state. I guess I am NOT smarter than a sixth grader Drewboo, thanks for pointing that out..gosh, sorry I didn't give out pertinent information for all of you to know exactly how much MORE you gotta pay! Who said 100,000 household income is poor? Not me..I mentioned that we have HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT here in Georgia STILL!!! I know this as I have close friends/family that are still looking for employment, and are worried how they will purchase kids school clothes and supplies and the last thing they need to worry about in the future is more taxes! I still stand by, this was horrible timing, since you are a whiz at math, maybe you can share how much this special election will cost us tax payers tomorrow! I'm sick of the waste and the fat of the lying politicians, if you "like" what is happening, I respect your opinion and would appreciate the same in return. I don't care for twisting my words. I WILL NEVER vote myself a tax UNLESS we get some folks that do what they say! I did see the best sign ever regarding this vote tomorrow, it simply said "DUMB AND DUMBER"! Amen...
Melinda Paris July 30, 2012 at 07:17 PM
AND DREWBOO--If I want to "cite" the internet in the future, I will...AT LEAST I wont repeat what Al Gore claimed, to be the inventor of the internet! That was and has been the best joke for years now! 2nd point: Since you say that even a middle school student can figure out the math, then why can't GROWN ADULTS figure out you are getting lied to and screwed over again?? hhhmmmm, just pondering............First time, shame on them, and 2nd time shame on us (me). I have voted YES before, I'm not about to fall in that sticky trap again!
Drewboo July 30, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Melinda, if you look up at the thread you will notice that those comments you are referring to are in response to Frank Jones, not you. Patch.com emails all replies from anyone to everyone to has commented on the thread. I am simply pointing out that while $600 may be an "average" - that many middle-class households couldnt possibly pay that much in sales taxes because it means they would have to be spending $60k on taxable items from the retail store. All that was in reply to Frank. I guess what frustrates me so much is all the misinformation going on about everything concerning the tsplost, and the complacent attitude about whats factual and just hearsay. This legislation was designed to help ATL achieve its transportation needs, and in order to make it fair the State of Georgia required that this law extend to the rest of the state. For the first time in history it looks like every region outside of ATL is about to pass a progressive transportation strategy while ATL votes it down! The region that actually needs this is going to pass it up, and the regions that are not in as dire a situation as ATL, but could use the extra help are going to pass this. Its just so sad... and when the Georgia legislature sees that ATL does not care about its own issues to stand up and do anything, while the rest of the state doesnt mind helping themselves, theyll know all the whining of traffic in ATL is going to fall on deaf ears. ATL doesnt want help - it just wants to be heard.
Melinda Paris July 30, 2012 at 07:25 PM
and lastly, DrewBOO--Is that name suppose to scare me? Just for the record, it doesn't..You have a nice day, and if the tax passes, then you can jump up and down and rejoice and celebrate. I won't celebrate, but this is STILL AMERICA, and we ALL have the right to our opinions, and I wouldn't even begin to change yours. I've lived long enough to know and see that every part of Gov't, wants more and more, and basically long hours for my family. Where does it end? I'm a small business owner that is hated by big Gov't, and 25% of small business's have already closed up shop in the last 3-4 years. We can't keep going down the road of more and more taxes, anyone that owns a business knows that is a true statement. You can't tax the people more and especially during a recession, it didn't work with Carter, and it won't work now or EVER! Thank God there is still rich people, cause they are the ONES that hire during hard times, its not the poor that hire, so people should quit hating the rich folks and be thankful there is a few still around, btw..I'm not one of the rich and I ain't hiring! We don't need more tax here in the local area, we are trying to dig out of a recession that looks like might not go away anytime soon.
Drewboo July 30, 2012 at 07:37 PM
You apparently do not know anyone named "Drew" as most people with that name are nicknamed "Drewboo". You are obviously getting yourself worked up over a comment that was not even directed to you. It sounds like you eat up some of the insane rhetoric espoused by the tea party since you think Govt hates your small business. I am also a business owner & while I dont like several members of govt for diff reasons, I know that GA govt is "small-town" as far as politics go, that republican and democrat (in Georgia) are the same thing. Most in state politics own businesses too which is how they got their name out there - sure some are likely looking for personal gain, but i highly doubt they have animus in their hearts toward small business owners. I think you are failing to realize that in these extremely competitive times, States are competing against each other for fed funding. The feds are now reviewing grant applications based on what the states are doing for themselves. They are award states which are already helping themselves rather than states which are doing nothing. If you want to stay in a jobless state and do nothing, then vote for that - Im all for democracy. I dont want to hear people whine about traffic and their commute when they are also not doing anything to help themselves. The people who are actually trying to make a difference for their state (volunteers, community organizers) are being branded some kind of villian in this referendum. Its disgusting.
Melinda Paris July 30, 2012 at 07:46 PM
OKAY, HERE we go..What has the Tea Party got to do with me not wanting more tax in my life?? I'm not a member of the Tea Party, even though I should be as they are very patriotic folks. I know many "DREW'S", one is even my son's football coach and NO, we don't call him Coach Drewboo- I don't eat any of the rhetoric of any news cast, I heard passing through a room either last night or this morning getting ready for work, that it would cost blah, blah amount each month per family. YOU OR NO ONE has to tell me this is EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE TIMES--I bid jobs DAILY, I get it loud and clear! I HAVE VOTED for better roads, roads to be widened in the past, and I'M still whinning about the traffic and commutes when I've already voted myself a tax previously for a certain road to get certain improvements and they DON'T! So actually, I don't whine anymore, I GRIPE and I GRIPE LOUDLY. I'm a volunteer, and I do charitable work in my community and LOTS OF IT, so I have no idea where that statement was going, I DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE where I live, on local and State levels, that still has no bearing on not wanting more tax and a special election to get the higher tax! You are making a huge assumption about people who DON'T WON'T more tax---some of us that don't want it, do as much in our local/state area's as those that want more tax. If you don't think you are going to get taxed more as a small business owner in our future's, that's fine, I KNOW BETTER!
Melinda Paris July 30, 2012 at 07:55 PM
AND Actually some of that DON'T won't more tax are being branded some kind of villian in this referendum, and yes its disgusting. I'm no different than those that want the tax, I'm a volunteer, community worker, I do a tremendous amount of charitable work for different organizations in the local Atlanta area. So, that argument doesn't fly, that the only people that do good works are the people that want the tax--there is good people doing good things on both sides of this vote. So, if we have heard the lies before, and we are NOW TAKING A STAND, what makes that wrong? I've never taken a stand before, and I think there is alot in the same position, we're tired of it, enough of it..Dang it, we're trying to stay afloat and its NOT the appropriate time for Georgian's TO PAY OUT MORE and its a DIS GRACE to ask our fellow Georgian's, who I remind you all that almost 10% is still unemployed in this state to give more. The un-employed in this state need to be heard and respected at this time. I feel for those families, there is some very sad stories and another area I do charitable work for, those that want to work and have been let go, or hours slashed.
Drewboo July 30, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Melinda, you dont have to twist my words to make a statement. Anyone can read my comments which are clearly stated. I cannot handle your extreme use of CAPITAL LETTERS, and childish remarks to dialogue with you farther. Why I responded to someone picking on my screenname (that should have been a sign of conversational quality), I dont know. So, have at me some more if you have so much time for that, but dont expect any more responses.
Melinda Paris July 31, 2012 at 06:17 AM
I don't twist anyone's words, if they are twisted its because of the way they were written, and of course anyone can read your comments, isn't this a blog? Sorry, if I over used CAPITAL LETTERS, it seemed to get your attention which was the point. Childish remarks, please go back and read how you hinted about people who vote against have something in common with Tea Party and etc, now that's pretty childish, I never expected responses from you or anyone, I simply stated why I couldn't vote YES this time and this isn't our first rodeo on more taxes for projects that seem to never get accomplished, and again I'm mad first for having a special election four months before a Presidential election. I'm not trying to change your mind, but just stating at why I'm fed up with out of control spending/ and I merely suggest to trim the fat, and the waste. I still believe this is not the time to bring more taxes on a state/city/locally when our UNEMPLOYMENT still is on the verge of double digits, and have had not change in months. I'm not having at you or anyone, I just ask everyone to vote, its the American way, exercise your rights, but of course, I hope that most vote NO, as for me and my house, we are TAXED OUT!! You have a blessed week!
Melinda Paris August 02, 2012 at 11:45 AM
T-SPLOST went T-SPLAT. I think there was numerous reasons why: 1. 400 project is a nightmare/and lie after lie from Govenor on down as lied about what they plan to do. 2. Go by any road improvement crew, with orange vest on, and there will be 10 watching and two working. 3. People are sick and tired of picking up the "tab" of more lying politicians. Its been my point from day one, SHOW us something that has gotten completed with more tax bills from the past, they are always continually working on past projects and half the time, they are not completed. The politicans right now have red faces, but get ready by the end of the week I'm sure they are going to began to talk about how stupid all the tax payers are by voting this down, so get ready for the backlash, its coming. I called, emailed all my representatives and ask/pleaded/talked about why this is the wrong time to ask for MORE, but it fell on deaf ears, maybe they will began listening to the majority of the people in their districts, we've been too quiet too long, we are ready to fight for what is right, and taking more and more to waste is not going to work anymore. I have NEVER opposed a added penny tax over the years, and I've never complained so much over what is going on, well-those days are behind me, I have to complain and be a voice for the future. Thanks for all that exercised your right to vote!
Melinda Paris August 03, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I was reading this morning that the folks that wanted this tax to pass spent 15 million dollars on ads and etc, which alot came from private funds, the folks that didn't want this tax passed spent 15,000.00. My point is this small amount money beat big money in this case, so we can never stop fighting for the right things locally, state wise, and Nationally. Thanks to all that made a difference.


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