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T-SPLOST issue gets a resounding 'no'

An anti-TSPLOST sign is posted along a Georgia road.

An anti-TSPLOST sign is posted along a Georgia road.

ELECTION CENTRAL

Visit our special election section for complete coverage of the 2012 primaries, HERE.

LAWRENCEVILLE — The voters spoke Tuesday with a clearly resounding “no” to a regional sales tax proposed to solve metro Atlanta’s transportation woes.

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.

“This was a victory for the people,” said Debbie Dooley, a Dacula woman active in the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots who emerged as a leader among a group of anti-tax organizations.

“Republican and Democrat voters said ‘Enough. You aren’t going to get any more money for us until we can trust you.’ ... It was a resounding defeat.”

With half of the counties still counting ballots just after 11 p.m., Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who helped lead an $8 million campaign promoting the tax, concerned to a coalition of opponents from tea party activists to the Sierra Club, who mounted a successful shoe-string effort pointing out flaws in the plan.

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.

According to unofficial results, more than 70 percent of Gwinnettians voted no, with the overall metro Atlanta vote about 63 percent in the negative as of 1 a.m.

From a solid anti-tax contingent to debates over the 157 projects designated for funding from the potential $8.5 billion the tax would bring in over 10 years, the arguments were heated and varied across the 10-county Atlanta region.

“I just don’t trust politicians,” Grayson man Phil Gaston said after casting his ballot.

Rick Johnson of Lawrenceville agreed, adding that the HOT lane conversion on Interstate 85 directly weighed on his decision.

“Since they took a lane away from us on the interstate, I’m not excited about giving them more money,” he said.

Proponents of the tax said that if the issue is voted down leaders could turn to raising the gas tax or more tolls on roads, but Johnson doesn’t believe that.

“I think it will lead to more fiscal responsibility,” he said of the movement by tea party activists and other groups to convince voters to say no.

The early returns showed less than a quarter of the votes in favor of the tax, which caused angst from business leaders gathered at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s 1818 Club.

Businessman Perry Tindol said he wasn’t particularly surprised at the outcome, since the emotions have run so high.

“It’s a matter of trust and distrust,” he said. “There are not that many people that see the big picture.”

Seeing traffic as a big issue that needs to be solved, Myron Bullock of Lawrenceville said the proposal is the fairest way to fund projects.

“Everybody gets to share the pain,” he said after voting yes. “You are going to pay for it one way or the other. This way everyone shares because it’s a consumption tax.”

Despite their disappointment, business leaders quickly shifted to talk of a future solution.

“The chamber is disappointed the voters rejected the Transportation Referendum,” said Gwinnett Chamber President Jim Maran. “However, addressing our region’s transportation needs and funding is still paramount. We’re so pleased with the collaboration demonstrated by business and community leadership, leading up to this vote — it sets a wonderful tone for working together in the future.”

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

dentaldawg83 2 years, 2 months ago

“It’s a matter of trust and distrust." “There are not that many people that see the big picture.”

so it's because us private citizens are nothing more than a bunch of stupid goobers who can't see past our own noses?...obviously there are still so many in "leadership" positions are are just clueless. It's the matter of spending money we literally don't have on a bunch of projects that benefit the very few.

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peterhoover 2 years, 2 months ago

They charge us now for a lane on I85 that has already been paid for. I mean WTF...are they serious???????. Keep coming to us for money. No sireee......

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JV 2 years, 2 months ago

And from the losers corner.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: "I respect the decision of the voters, but tomorrow I'm going to wake up and work just as hard to change their minds,"

Georgia Govenor Nathan Deal: "This is not the end of the discussion; it's merely a transition point.”

Businessman Perry Tindol: “There are not that many people that see the big picture.”

Gwinnett Chamber President Jim Maran: We’re so pleased with the collaboration demonstrated by business and community leadership, leading up to this vote — it sets a wonderful tone for working together in the future.”

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JohnGalt 2 years, 2 months ago

Interesting! This was not just a "NO" vote. What troubles me is that Kasim Reed is going to "...work just as hard..." and Nathan Deal says "...This is not the end of the discussion..." Yeah Nathan, discussion is over. These people are like a bunch of hard-headed children. You tell them "NO", and they keep working against you as if they didn't hear you and completely ignore you. This almost 2-to-1 margin of a "NO" vote should demonstrate to these imbeciles, that in spite of all of their lying deceitful campaign to convince us we had to have it, we ain't buying it. You're right Deal ~ it ain't over. It will be over in 2014 when we hand you your pink slip and elect a Democrat as Governor for the first time in 12 years.

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notblind 2 years, 2 months ago

Read my lips "NO NEW TAXES - EVER ! "

The bureaucrats, politicians and lobbyists need to wake up. They already take more from the taxpayer than is right and the taxpayers know it. Big huge city halls for podunk small cities, minor league baseball stadiums, Lexus lanes, disappearing tolls that don't disappear, pork, pork and more pork, etc etc. Tsplost was just more pig food.

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toby 2 years, 2 months ago

TSPLOST- NO Chick fil A- supported Next, Obama- OUT As Herman said, "We the People are still in Control".

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 2 months ago

Toby, let me be clear before I wizz in your corn flakes, I HATE Obama. That said, the latest polls in the battle ground states this morning say 4 more years is coming of Obama. So get ready. As bad as I hate to admit that.

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FordGalaxy 2 years, 2 months ago

Which is baffling to me. By all economic indicators that I've seen, Obama is worse for the economy than George Bush was, yet people are still more than willing to vote for him.

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Sandykin 2 years, 2 months ago

They still don't get it. We the people know you can't spend money you don't have and when you don't have money to spend, you gotta come up with a workable budget and live within it. That means making some hard choices sometimes. We know that. We've said in no uncertain terms, here's your budget. Deal with it. Make it work. They still don't get it. I don't think there going to be able to accept that reality. Seems like I hear a bit of a temper tantrum coming on.

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Don 2 years, 2 months ago

The entire T-Splost plan and projects were flawed form the begining. I mean what is Marta going to do now that it will not get a new terrazzo floor in one of their stations? The plan had so many projects that really in all honesty had nothing to do with the route problem of traffic in Atlanta. A new control tower at a local airport will not reduce the cars on the street. The politicians and companies behind this need to get a clue as far as reality and what is needed to solve the congestion on our roads.

I would like to see some revamping of where the gas tax is going and all the other income from income. How about some better control of spending.

We the voters have sent a clear message to the politicians that we do not trust how they manage money nor how they develop plans (if you can say they had a plan).

I am waiting or Mayor Reed to come out and say something like I hope you all like sitting in your cars for three hours a day for the next ten years since you defeated this.

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 2 months ago

@ Don, he said last night, "I respect the decision of the voters. But tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and work just as hard to change their minds."

Change our minds? LOL!!!! This guy is just like every other government loving politician! He is not going to change his plan... he is going to change minds!!!

Wow.

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YouMustBeKidding 2 years, 2 months ago

There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with this entire scenario. 8 MILLION dollars was spent SUPPORTING this tax?!?!? If the roads are THAT bad, why not use the 8 million dollars spent on STUPID ads and other garbage that was thrown over the place trying to pass this garbage and DONATE it to fix the roads!

This has corruption thrown all over it! Makes me wonder how much this stuff would have cost in the end!

As for any future taxes? Forget it! I will vote EVERY tax out of here, and NOT renew any existing taxes until government shows itself more accountable.

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jack 2 years, 2 months ago

It cannot be said T-SPLOST didn't help the economy.

Advertising agencies and media oulets definitely saw an increase in income.

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Linda 2 years, 2 months ago

Our government doesn't know how to handle our money effectively. Greedy politicans and their buddies.

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JimmyOrr 2 years, 2 months ago

I am a Southern Baptist. We sing a hymn in which the words go, "When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be." I would like to paraphrase the words to that grand old hymn and sing, "When we all defeat TSPLOST what a day of rejoicing that will be." Today, Wednesday, August 1, 2012, is a day of rejoicing throughout Metro Atlanta. TSPLOST has become TSPLAT and has been declared null & void via an overwhelming defeat at the ballot box. Overwhelming defeat may be an understatement. It was more like an old fashion behind kicking by "We the People" aka taxpayers. Yes sir, today is a day for rejoicing throughout Metro Atlanta.

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Don_Coyote 2 years, 2 months ago

Merely voting this referendum down will not be the end of it for a long time to come and our own legislators brought this down on us. The only entities allowed to levy taxes in the State Constitution are the state itself, counties, and cities. There are no provisions for "special districts" whereby one county can determine if their surrounding ones should levy a tax short of statewide. The counties that did not pass this but are lumped into a district that did will be in court. The ones like Gwinnett that are in a district that did not pass it will be as well since we will now be paying a 20% penalty on all road improvement grants in perpetuity or until our "special district" passes another TSPLOST, I suspect HB 277 of 2010 will eventually be found unconstitutional but at what total cost to the taxpayers in the end for this boondoggle?

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SamanthaBA 2 years, 2 months ago

.........So does this mean the construction helping to ease traffic at Buford Dr and 316 will stop? Because that is a mess morning and evening, and if a one cent tax was denied and the traffic stays a mess, I will be a bit upset. (I do remember seeing it as a project mentioned on the list funded by TSPLOST. I'm not sure how many people looked up the list before voting....)

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R 2 years, 2 months ago

It will magically reappear under another funding mechanism...

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AsTrueOrTruer 2 years, 2 months ago

The picture in the print edition says it all. Crowded I-85 with two HOT lanes with exactly one car in each.

Give us back our paid for lanes and you'll reduce congestion, then we can talk.

Otherwise don't come back and let's unelect all those in favor.

My question is, why don't we have votes on ALL taxes. Let us decide whether we want to pay or increase a tax, not some gift receiving, career politicians.

We don't need new taxes, we need more tax PAYERS, and we need LESS spending. Spend only what you've got. Not a cent more. SPENDING is the PROBLEM!

And for all of you politicians, and most journalists, it was not a penny sales tax. It was a ONE PERCENT sales tax. Anybody that says penny sales tax is a dishonest person.

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JimmyOrr 2 years, 2 months ago

SamanthaBA, the project on State Route 316 to effect grade separations at Collins Hill Road and State Route 20 (Buford Drive) is a GDOT project which is funded and was put out for competitive bid. GP's Enterprises, Inc. was the low bidder. As you well know, work is underway and will conclude within the time frame as specified by the contract between the GDOT and GP's Enterprises, Inc. As the project continues to revolve the detours, lane shifts, traffic control, etc. may be painful so to speak but once completed, it will alleviate this bottleneck same as the interchange at I-85 and State Route 316 improved traffic flow when that interchange was completed.

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SickandTired 2 years, 2 months ago

GA politicians just don't get it. The reason companies are not relocating to the state is not because of the traffic. I think it's because GA consistently ranks at the bottom in education on a national scale. Gwinnett county students (supposedly the best system in the state) are housed in trailers. Most schools don't have a sufficient textbook supply for all students so they have to share in the classroom and cannot take books home to study! Taxes are out of control here, between property taxes, state income tax, ad valorem taxes. I just renewed my vehicle plates and spent $550 for two cars - one is a 10 y/o vehicle the other is a 3 y/o compact!!! Just paid my kid's college tuition and had to pay over $2000 in bogus fees for things she will never benefit from.

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