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Leaders to 'reprioritize' after failure of transportation tax

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LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday he is committed to finding a solution to Atlanta's traffic woes, but with Tuesday's defeat of a sales tax referendum for funding, the projects will have to be reprioritized.

"The voters of Georgia have spoken, and I will continue to do what I have done since I became governor: Work in consultation with state transportation leaders, legislators and local officials to establish our priority projects. There will be belt-tightening," said Deal, who publicly supported the one-percent tax that could have brought $8.5 billion in funding over 10 years in metro Atlanta. "It's certainly disappointing that we won't have the resources to accomplish all the projects needed to get Georgians moving quicker, but it does force state officials, including myself, to focus all our attention on our most pressing needs."

Deal said transportation projects will have to be divided into a "need to do" list, instead of a "want to do" list," which could mean projects like the $600 million rebuild of the Ga. Highway 400, Interstate 285 interchange could be take years to fund, especially since not only are state budgets tight but federal funding is tough to find.

Transit could fare worse, he said, adding that the vote "slams the door" on expansion to the rail system in Atlanta.

"Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates," he said.

Gwinnett's Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, who did not take a side in the tax debate, said the county would look for ways to get its projects moving forward.

"We have a good Transportation Plan, and we will continue to find ways to fund it," she said. "I anticipate that transportation projects will represent a large portion of the proposed uses for the next Gwinnett SPLOST referendum. In the meantime, we will complete delivery of transportation projects currently funded."

Deal said the three regions where the transportation sales tax was approved by voters -- the Columbus, Augusta and Vidalia areas -- will "see great returns on their investment." He pointed out that Gwinnett and other others will have to provide more in local match funds to state projects due to the vote.

"As governor, I aim to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business and improving our transportation infrastructure is a major part of that effort," he said. "(Tuesday's) vote wasn't an end of the discussion; it's a transition point. We have much to do, and I'll work with state and local officials to direct our limited resources to the most important projects."

Debbie Dooley, one of the leaders of a coalition of tax foes, said leaders need to look at short- and long-term solutions to the issue.

She said the Legislature should consider a proposal that allows counties to decide which neighbors to partner with in transportation, and in the meantime, some money should be shifted. For example, the Dacula woman said a percentage of gas taxes currently allocated to the state general fund could give $175 million a year for road projects if it were reallocated to transportation.

Comments

rco1847 2 years, 1 month ago

Tell the govenor it's just another bad DEAL.

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rco1847 2 years, 1 month ago

Atlant Metro area is 30 years behind in having a comprehensive transportation plan. The territorial politics ruined that years ago.

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CitizenY 2 years, 1 month ago

They were making bad decisions about 316 40 years ago, and they made a really, really bad decision 20 years ago when they decided to bid for the Olympics. We thought it was so great, but it was an invitation to the world that this city would be better off without, considering. What if every unwanted resident disappeared from the roads tomorrow?

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Don_Coyote 2 years, 1 month ago

"He [Gov. Deal] pointed out that Gwinnett and other others will have to provide more in local match funds to state projects due to the vote."

Also Gov. Deal is quoted elsewhere that he has no interest in revisiting anymore TSPLOST votes as the voters have spoken "loud and clear". Yet HB 277 does not allow for any escape from paying a 30% match in perpetuity until such time as a TSPLOST is voted in and a re-vote cannot occur in less than 24 months.

In the event a special district sales and use tax election is held and the voters in a special district do not approve the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax, the local governments in such special district shall be required to provide a 30 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation for transportation projects and programs for at least 24 months and until such time as a special district sales and use tax is approved.

So Gwinnett is thrown into an unconstitutional "special district" with Atlanta and given a Hobson's choice of voting for a potpourri of pork or nothing and now will have to pay a 20% penalty for maintenance on State Roads within the county in perpetuity. These "grants" by the way are for access to motor fuel tax money the citizens already pay outside of the purview of HB 277 and Gwinnett I'm sure is one of the largest sources of that revenue to GDOT in the state. The "special district" Gwinnett was lumped into is not provided for in the Georgia Constitution for levying taxes and I would look for our county leaders to demand it be rescinded. This was bad legislation and totally unfair to the county's taxpayers.

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NewsReader 2 years, 1 month ago

If you are right about this, and I suspect you are, Gwinnett should file suit against the state on this and have their day in court. Just look at all the foolishness we as taxpayers have had to put up with at the state and national level because of this level of extortion perpetuated against the people.

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dentaldawg83 2 years, 1 month ago

Maybe it's time for folks to consider actually living closer to where they work. My "commute" from home to work is about 25 minutes and involves no travel on a clogged interstate highway.

It's also time for the state DOT's power to be reined in and local and state politicians to get serious about mass transit planning where the transit benefits folks who can afford it, not just for folks who don't contribute to the cost. The express buses in Gwinnett show that people are willing to use transit if it makes sense to them. Natural gas powered buses might be a better short term and more inexpensive answer than planning trains all over the place.

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BurritoJones 2 years, 1 month ago

With the job and real estate market in the state that it is, I think your solution may be a touch too simple. I mean how much luck are a couple million commuters supposed to have in finding an affordable new home inside the perimeter?

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dentaldawg83 2 years, 1 month ago

of course it's simple. and you don't need millions of commuters to relocate to ease the burden.

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Don_Coyote 2 years, 1 month ago

I fear a bit too simplistic, especially for those with school age children that cannot afford to pay higher property taxes and still need to send their children to private schools. To send your children to Atlanta City Schools when you can afford otherwise is tantamount to child abuse.

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 1 month ago

Are you kidding me? With the job market like it is? Someone takes a job in Norcross and moves to Duluth to be closer. 1 year later that company is in financial trouble, lays off 50% of its staff. Now that someone in Duluth, who is unemployed finds a job that pays well in Marietta. They are supposed to pick up and move closer there too?

I love people like yourself that just think picking up and moving closer to your job is just "so simple". You live in a dream world. People are upside down on their houses and their job location changes faster than Nathan Deal's opinion on toll roads.

Get real.

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NewsReader 2 years, 1 month ago

If you are upside down, you are living beyond your means. Yeah, I know many people are. If a few million people believe and follow a dumb idea, it's still a dumb idea. It is you that lives in a dream world and expect the rest of the general population to subsidize your choices in life. Perhaps you shouldn't be a home owner. Perhaps you should be a renter.

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BurritoJones 2 years ago

The vast majority of upside down mortgages are the result of the housing market collapse. That's not 'living beyond your means'. That's being impacted by the recession.

And what's the solution to somebody that's upside down on their mortgage? What option do they have to get out from under it that doesn't include foreclosure?

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BuzzG 2 years, 1 month ago

"Debbie Dooley, one of the leaders of a coalition of tax foes, said leaders need to look at short- and long-term solutions to the issue."

Thank you Debbie Dooley and the Georgia Tea Party for having the guts to stand up to establishment Republicans. The campaign to stop the T-SPLOST nonsense has been a low budget true grass-roots campaign. The pro tax people had many millions of bucks provided by Georgia Power, Cox, AT&T, Coca Cola, and the Who's Who of the rich and powerful. This was truly a David versus Goliath campaign. We won because we had the facts on our side. I have become a true believer in the Tea Party as real Democracy in action. Power to the people!

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notblind 2 years, 1 month ago

The MANY millions of dollars that have been wasted on needless pork over the past few decades finally has the taxpayer angry. We have many transportation challenges that DO need an infusion of money but the local and state goobermints would rather spend the money on outsized city halls, minor league stadiums, GO FISH projects, ridiculously expensive sidewalk upgrades, money sucking golf courses, yada yada yada. There always seems to be plenty of money for this pork barrel crap but when we need a big road project forget about it, here they come with their hand out.

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Mack711 2 years, 1 month ago

Now that T SPLOST has been defeated the next thing to go should be SRTA and Evans. After all this department of the GA DOT is one who caused a lot ot the congestion on I 85 in Gwinnett. Soon they will spread the HOT lanes to all of the interstate system in and around Atlanta and Georgia. Talk about PORK SRTA is full of it and pork also.

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Sandykin 2 years, 1 month ago

it does force state officials, including myself, to focus all our attention on our most pressing needs."

Deal said transportation projects will have to be divided into a "need to do" list, instead of a "want to do" list,"


THIS is something they SHOULD have been doing all along. It's called fiscal responsibility just in case you're wondering Mr. Deal.

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raah 2 years, 1 month ago

You hit the nail on the head. I voted against the tax because of all of the pork that was included, including all of the non traffic projects.

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jday1229 2 years, 1 month ago

At some point they need to realize that adding more roads will never "fix" the traffic problem. Encouraging businesses to move to the 'burbs and embrace alternative strategies like telecommuting is the only long-range solution.

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apsLilburn 2 years, 1 month ago

All local governments have the ability to fix some of the traffic woes right now but they don't. You could synchronize traffic signals. I'm sick and tired of driving from red light to red light and having to stop when the green side has no traffic flowing. Also, the government DOT bureaucrat that came up with the notion that any side street crossing a major road MUST have it's own cycle. These DOT morons don't realize that this signal change exacerbates the traffic flow problem.

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Braveshopr 2 years, 1 month ago

" You could synchronize traffic signals. I'm sick and tired of driving from red light to red light and having to stop when the green side has no traffic flowing." Exactly! I have never lived in any city where the light changes to red - synchronized with the last red light. Sometimes I feel like I am being watched and it's being done purely to pizz me and the other drivers off! And an entirely nother problem - on Pleasant Hill Rd, getting to 85N via the only right lane - there is a huge back up that goes for miles. Where is the city on this one? - while smaller feeder roads enjoy larger green light times. Signs, getting rid of the pay as you go hot lane, and an overhaul of the traffic lights are much less expensive than paying a contractor millions, but then again, there's no payoff. When they took away a much needed lane on 85 to grease their own pockets, they lost my vote for ever.

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jack 2 years, 1 month ago

Why were there no funds in T-SPLOST dedicated to teleportation?

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nag6970 2 years, 1 month ago

Now lets get the Gas Tax funds used for what they are supposed to. Remove it from the General Fund. Why don't we have the DOT remove the HOT lanes from 85 and relieve a little congestion. We paid for the lanes to be constructed via tax's and they charge to use them. The state should use less money not look for ways to get more from the citizens.

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kevin 2 years ago

glad to see that voters took an interest in something for a change. The NO vote was correct. Get rid of every politician that supported putting this on the ballot. Keep the voting spirit alive and well a bit longer please. Keep re-electing and you keep getting people trying to make money off the taxpayer and wasteful spending to boot. Mass transit it the ONLY thing I will ever vote for. Roads are simply never going to solve traffic issues in Georgia. Poor development in the past 20 years has permanently made a mess. We do not need to tax ourselves to give jobs to the development sector. They only give more money to the politicians that support them at our expense.

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Coolray 2 years ago

We elect people we hate. Then we complain when they do things we don't like. Stop electing Kennerly, Balfour, Perdue and Deal. Elect someone who represents your point of view and end the "blog rule."

Lassiter, Bannister.........

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rco1847 2 years ago

I know many people who voted against the T-splost - None are T-Partiers. Lets not over congratulate ourselves. If voting against the tax was the right thing to do then evryone who vote, democrat. republican, or t-party member did the right thing on this issue. I think the greatest credit goes to the independent voters - those who put politics aside and voted the issue.

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