Albany, Ga. - A state house representative from Albany says an unprecedented statewide campaign to add another penny in sales taxes isn't worth the hardships it will place on residents in Southwest Georgia.
Rep. Winfred Dukes, an Albany Democrat, told reporters during a press conference Wednesday that Southwest Georgia residents, especially those living in Dougherty County, are paying enough with increases from the Dougherty County Commission, the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission and the Albany City Commission and can't stomach an additional one-percent for every dollar.
"Now, we're asking the people of the ninth poorest congressional district in the nation to tax themselves an additional penny for roads they don't need from money they don't have," Dukes said.
Voters in Southwest Georgia will decide July 31 whether to impose a one-percent sales tax for regional transportation projects on most purchases.
In Southwest Georgia, the tax, which will span 10 years if approved, is expected to generate $530 million.
Proponents say that it will generate 14,000 new jobs over the next 10 years in the area and provide a funding source that the state simply can't replicate on its own.
Opponents, like Dukes, say that sales taxes are regressive and tend to hurt the poor more than they benefit them. Many critical of the bill question the government's ability to manage the funds and argue that taxes tend to cost jobs rather than create them.
"I have doubts about the jobs figures they're talking about and any jobs created by these projects will be temporary and limited," Dukes said. "So you're not really helping the region."
Dukes said that voters should look at the projects and, if TSPLOST benefits them and is worth it to them, vote for it. But for him, he says it isn't.
"I offer to you that we don't have a transportation problem in Southwest Georgia. If you want to get somewhere and it takes you longer than 20 minutes, you're lost," Dukes said.