The Devil Is in the Details of TSPLOST Vote
Just when we think it is over, we are faced with a 30 percent penalty for not voting in favor of a higher tax.
Just when we think it is over, that is, the issue of higher taxes that nine of the 12 regions in Georgia voted down last week, the realization dawns that there is a penalty for not voting to raise our taxes. We are being reminded there is a funding penalty built into legislation that was passed along with the original “Transportation Investment Act of 2010.” In simple terms, for the nine out of 12 regions daring to vote down the higher tax, GDOT will require the local governments to pay a 30 percent matching fund for any local maintenance and improvements approved by GDOT for at least two years until the next time a vote can be held on TSPLOST.
In even more simple terms, this is the Department of Transportation holding the citizens hostage for up to two years after they vote not to raise their taxes. The three districts voting to raise their taxes will still be required to pay out a 10 percent matching fund for any local maintenance during the time period of the tax. Built into this legislation is the fact that in two years, we will be faced with the same old song and the second verse being; if you want the 30 percent penalty taken off, then pass the 1 percent sales and use tax.
This type of government slight of hand and trickery is the reason the level of trust in government has reached its low point. Somewhere, there must be a meeting of minds with real solutions to the multiple needs on the issue of transportation in our state. We know many people are moving into our state from (as they say) up north, but given the mindset of most southern folks, we like having our vehicle within arms length in order to be able to exercise our freedom of mobility that is not known up north. Mass transit, light rail, or subways cost unbelievable amounts of money to build and maintain. Forcing people off the highways into mass transit is going to be harder than the political transportation folks think it will.
I know all the name calling of “backward thinking rednecks,” I know there are those in the ivory marbled offices in the high places of government who think they have to tell us little people what to do, what to think, and how to act, but time has come for those in government to realize we are not unreasonable and our voices will be heard on these issues. It is not a small group of malcontents speaking up on this issue, but a group of grassroots patriots who will be heard and will remember those who are seeking to push their way as the only way to solve the transportation needs of the citizens of Georgia.
From where I stand, now is the time to bring as many stakeholders as possible to the table and get down to the business of finding solutions.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter @RayNewmanSr