Deal: TSPLOST failure a "disappointment" (Update 3:14 p.m.)

This graphic shows the regions that voted to support the one-percent sales tax increase for transportation projects and those that voted against it.

This graphic shows the regions that voted to support the one-percent sales tax increase for transportation projects and those that voted against it.

— After a majority of the state voted against hiking sales taxes in their region to fund transportation projects, state officials have begun the process of determining where the state, and its lingering transportation issues, go from here.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has released a statement saying that his office will be pursuing alternatives for transportation funding to deal with the vacuum left by decisions by most Georgians to vote down a controversial penny sales tax initiative Tuesday.

In his statement to the Herald, Deal said that he's considering alternatives but hinted that a tax increase wasn't likely.

“There’s a consensus among Georgians that we need transportation investment, and we must move forward working with existing resources. Given state budget constraints, significant reductions in federal funding and the long time it takes to get projects completed, the rejection of the TSPLOST does significantly reduce our capacity to add infrastructure in a timely fashion. While the outcome of the vote is a disappointment, this is not the end of the discussion; it’s merely a transition point. We won’t be able to do everything we want to do to get people and goods moving quicker, but we’ll do whatever we can to prioritize our most pressing needs," Deal wrote.

Voters in three Georgia regions, the River Valley Region near Columbus, the Heart of Georgia region around Dublin, and the Central Savannah region around Augusta where the only ones statewide to approve the one-percent sales tax initiative for transportation. The remaining 9 regions, including the Southwest Georgia region and the Atlanta region, voted the measure down.

Deal rejected the idea Wednesday of raising the gas tax -- the traditional revenue source for state transportation projects -- and said that he himself would decide which projects around the state would be funded in the areas that didn't approve the TSPLOST.

Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, thanked those regions who did pass the measure and vowed that his group would continue to push for improvements to the state's transportation network.

"Obviously the Georgia Chamber and the business community isn't in this for just one election. We might have lost this vote, but we still haven't addressed the transportation problem," Clark said.

The Georgia Chamber funneled millions of privately-donated dollars into marketing the TSPLOST throughout the regions of Georgia.

Charles Bulloch, a political science professor at the University of Georgia and one of the state's pre-eminent political thinkers said that Tuesday's vote strengthened the state's Tea Party movement, lending them credibility that could resonate throughout the Gold Dome.

"I think it gave the Tea Party a boost and may have strengthened the influence they'll have at the state level," Bulloch said.

Bulloch said he believed the measure largely failed because of a host of reasons, including public distrust of government, poor timing and a miscalculation by government officials that the success of previous sales taxes would equal success in this instance.

"There was a definite miscalculation made about how this would be received," Bulloch said. "People are very suspicious of any taxes right now. I guess what we'll learn from this is that you're willing to vote for a sales tax in your county, but when it becomes a regional thing with other counties, it gets a lot more difficult."


billslugg 3 years, 3 months ago

With state funds, local funds and the $800 billion stimulus having produced atrocities such as the "Arches over Oglethorpe", the widening of Gillionville with subsequent speed limit reduction and the four unwelcome signs at our entrances, the notion of taking more money from us is laughable. If roads were really so valuable and so crowded, a simple fee such as a gasoline tax should be sufficient to make all the new roads required. We already have that tax. The fact that they cannot make do with such a logical and straightforward method of funding means there is a lot more to this story than just new atrocities. I can imagine all kinds of political back scratching and greasy payoffs at my expense. No thanks SPLOST. Good riddance. Now go do your job like you were supposed to in the first place.


agonized 3 years, 3 months ago

All excellent examples of tax dollars squandered. I can see where Atlanta and the Metro areas need roads fixed and projects done, but as the Governor and Legislature are prone to forget, there is more to the State of Georgia than Atlanta and the surrounding counties. Plus, once any version of SPLOST is passed, it never seems to go away. I do fear that if pet projects are wanted, lawmakers will simply find another way to tax us. At least lawmakers across much of the state got the message that we're sick of being taxed with nothing of worth to show for it.


jglass 3 years, 3 months ago

I am glad that the people spoke! I am tired of the gov't, etc. spending and spending my money and still wanting more. Learn to be frugal with our money!!!!


Cartman 3 years, 3 months ago

"We won’t be able to do everything we want to do to get people and goods moving quicker, but we’ll do whatever we can to prioritize our most pressing needs, Deal wrote."

Now you're getting the message Nathan.


bigbob 3 years, 3 months ago

Let the taxpayers vote on the projects & it will pass easily. We are just sick of all the useless pet projects.


iko 3 years, 3 months ago

Now if we can get Sinyard and the other scum thrown out, we might lower our local tax burden.


Sister_Ruby 3 years, 3 months ago

Here's something that can be done for free: Permanently shut down the speed traps that exist on the nice wide divided 4-lane highways north, south, east, and west of Albany. That will enhance travel to and from this area. Free!!


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