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Morning update:T-SPLOST across the state (UPDATED WITH GRAPHIC)

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.

— Voters have rejected a penny sales tax referendum to pay for transportation projects in nine of 12 regions in Georgia, including in metro Atlanta, unofficial returns show.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, 63 percent of metro Atlanta voters rejected the tax, compared to 37 percent in favor.

The penny sales tax to pay for billions in transportation projects over the next decade was a draw for many voters in Tuesday’s primary election. The issue was on the primary ballot in 12 districts around the state, with voters in each region deciding whether to levy the tax to pay for road and transit projects in their communities. Statewide approval was not required. The Atlanta region stood the most to gain.

Critics derided the proposal as an unfair tax on the poor that wouldn’t deal with the problems of sprawl. Tuesday’s vote “shows the power of the people,” said Debbie Dooley, Georgia Tea Party Patriots state coordinator and an outspoken opponent of the measure.

“They ran a top-down, PR campaign, whereas we ran a bottom-up, true grassroots political campaign,” Dooley said Tuesday. “The people are sending a message, and elected officials would do well to take heed: You aren’t getting any more of our tax dollars until you can show you’re responsible and can be trusted with the money you have now.”

Supporters included Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a Democrat; they were increasingly visible in the days leading up to the vote. They tied the tax to Georgia’s economic future and promised the infrastructure projects would ease traffic congestion for frustrated commuters.

Reed, who crisscrossed the city in the final stretch of the campaign, conceded defeat late Tuesday but remained committed to the issue.

“I respect the decision of the voters, but tomorrow I’m going to wake up and work just as hard to change their minds,” he told supporters at a rally.

In a statement, Deal also expressed disappointment in the outcome of the vote.

“Given state budget constraints, significant reductions in federal funding and the long time it takes to get projects completed, the rejection of the TSPLOST significantly reduces our capacity to add infrastructure in a timely fashion,” the governor said. “This is not the end of the discussion; it’s merely a transition point. There’s a consensus among Georgians that we need transportation investment, and we must more forward by working with the resources available.”

Supporters spent $8 million trying to convince voters that the plan would add jobs, ease congestion and improve the quality of life — making the campaign one of the most expensive in state history.

Critics, who spent far less, blasted the plan as not only the heftiest tax proposal in state history, but as a false strategy that failed to encourage smart growth.

Tea party members, the state NAACP and the Sierra Club comprised an unlikely coalition that opposed the referendum, relying on e-mail and social media to urge voters to defeat the measure.

Each district decided its own fate, with regions that rejected the plan getting nothing. The Savannah region rejected the transportation tax, 58 percent to 43 percent. The measure also went down across four other north Georgia districts and in the southern, southwest and middle Georgia districts.

The Central Savannah, River Valley and Heart of Georgia districts all approved the measure.

In metro Atlanta, supporters estimated the tax would generate more than $8.4 billion between 2013 and 2022. The 10-county metro Atlanta region stretches from Cherokee to Fayette counties, including Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb counties — among the state’s most populous.

The referendum was years in the making at the legislative level, and many lawmakers touted the choice as one of local control for communities. Regional commissions gathered public input for months before coming up with local project lists of varying scale and budget.

Comments

Nous_Defions 1 year, 8 months ago

In a statement, Deal also expressed disappointment in the outcome of the vote.

“Given state budget constraints, significant reductions in federal funding and the long time it takes to get projects completed, the rejection of the TSPLOST significantly reduces our capacity to add infrastructure in a timely fashion,” the governor said. “This is not the end of the discussion; it’s merely a transition point. There’s a consensus among Georgians that we need transportation investment, and we must more forward by working with the resources available.”

Mr. Deal, There was definately a "consenus among Georgians" and we demonstrated that at the polls yesterday, No New Taxes! Respectfully Sir, I intend to vote against you when you seek re-election. You have been given an loss to the referendum you supported. Now, please stop talking and follow the will of the people. You've been given your maching papers, now follow them.

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jglass 1 year, 8 months ago

AMEN......Nous_Defions!!!!

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VSU 1 year, 8 months ago

If it was to benefit more for Atlanta than anywhere else, no wonder Deal and Reed was pushing it. That was even more reason to vote it down. I don't care about improvement to roads in Atlanta, I don't go there that much. I'll make do with what we got. People are saying, start spending our tax money wisely, otherwise we are going to vote to deny you the money.

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Cartman 1 year, 8 months ago

A victory for Georgia citizens! Democracy in action! I love it!

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 8 months ago

The defeat of T-SPLOST should be a CLEAR message to our local Politicians.."We do NOT Trust you with any more of our TAX Dollars".

So choke on that property tax increase and you will see how much we liked it come election time.

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Albanite 1 year, 8 months ago

This is exactly the point. It isn't so much the TSPLOST as it is the fact that we voters do not trust Atlanta politicians to keep their word anymore. We trust Washington even less.

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linbru1956 1 year, 8 months ago

they spent 8 million to promote it? 8 million....and i heard this morning that georgia is getting 100 million to help with foreclosed properties and blight and our great gov has decided to use the money for something else. and they want us to just keep giving them more money to send down the drain?

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bigbob 1 year, 8 months ago

If the taxpayers were able to vote on the projects done by Tsplost money it would pass with ease. We are just sick of all the politicians pet projects. If it had past most of the money would have been wasted.

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waltspecht 1 year, 8 months ago

Now, they will raise the gas tax, make it an across the board percentage so it will increase when the price goes up on gas, and then use the population vote in Atlanta to direct the funding to all their projects. Then we shall really see that there are indeed two Georgias. I suggest you start wokking on your representatives to the State government to assure a fair and equitable distribution of the funds that are going to generate from this gas tax. At least the users will be paying for the road improvements. Unless you only use gas to mow your lawn.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

You could help deter the traffic in Atlanta by not allowing businesses to build there for many years to come. Do not give them a $81 billion tax break and you will have the money to build those roads. How can you as leaders of this state allow this glut of building and the rest of the state remains poor and low paid! Deal You will never get my vote again. You are just like the rest and I voted for you, but is was a choice of two deadbeats. This will be your last term as governor.

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