Gov. Deal, big Republicans join to push new tax on all of us
On Monday, a letter from the Connect Georgia campaign of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Alliance became public knowledge. In this letter, Governor Deal sent a message to local elected officials.
“Mayor and Council: Governor Deal has requested a list of all elected officials who support T-SPLOST. He is willing to make a commitment to campaign for the reelection of any local elected official who will publicly support T-SPLOST. How should I respond? If each of you could respond to me I would appreciate it and I will merely pass it along. I want to be sure I say this was presented in no way as a threat or a negative, just as a commitment to help and support those who support T-SPLOST. Lt. Governor Cagle is also coming down for a fund-raiser for T-SPLOST soon. Both of those are vocal supporters and advocates for T-SPLOST.”
Now, I didn’t count on the governor’s support when running for reelection. In fact, I never even thought of it as a possibility. I had already crashed the party and personally asked the Governor about the T-SPLOST.
I told Gov. Deal that “I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that most of my constituents did not support the T-SPLOST.”
“That’s why we made it a ballot issue,” answered the governor.
“But, sir, I am from Fayette County — we are a small county, and our votes may be cancelled out”
The governor abruptly ended the conversation at that point. He did not want to know that you, the voter, were against the T-SPLOST. Generally, mass transit boondoggles are in the Democrats domain. Unfortunately for us, this cash grab is a bipartisan effort.
They say that politics makes strange bedfellows. That is most certainly the case here. We have a Republican governor who signed a “no new tax pledge” when running for governor gleefully jumping into bed with pro-mass transit Democrats.
Not only has he made the choice to support this multi-billion dollar tax, he is now trying to strong-arm good, local conservatives into joining him.
This is unacceptable. I guess I’ll be on the governor’s “Naughty” list when he is handing out the endorsement goodies. I can live with that. When I first announced I was running for City Council, I promised to put my heart and soul into fighting for what is right. These bullying tactics are not right, and neither is this new tax.
Many people have said that it is “just a penny.” It is a penny — on every dollar you spend. If you spend $20,000, that will be $2,000 coming out of your pocket over 10 years. Most of us in Fayette County spend more than $20,000 a year. We are talking about substantial amounts of money.
It’s not just the thousands of dollars that you will be spending that has me concerned. When at the Fayette County Issues Tea Party event, I asked a representative of Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network (MAVEN) about the maintenance backlog that is predicted to hit $2.3 billion at the end of the 10 years. I asked where this money would come from. The answer was that they didn’t know.
Half of this money will be spent on mass transit, yet with a $2.3 billion maintenance backlog, I have to question whether or not we will have any functioning trains by the time the tax expires.
Finally, I question whether this tax will actually expire. All of these taxes are to build infrastructure, not to provide operational funding. This means in 10 years we will have to fund the operation and maintenance of the new mass transit elements.
Currently each MARTA rider is subsidized to the tune of $2,250 per rider ($540 million loss divided by 240,000 riders). I agree that the new mass transit elements will take people of the road (though not enough to matter), and each one of these new riders will take the system further and further into the red. The more riders MARTA gains, the more money it loses. This is just bad business.
In closing, I would ask that every voter keep their own list of politicians that support the T-SPLOST. Put it away in a safe place and remember to bring it with you to the polls. Let’s remember those who want to fund the building of a transportation system without funding its operation. Let’s also remember who supported a massive tax increase. Finally, let’s remember those who support throwing good money after bad at $2,250 per rider. And most importantly, let’s remember that the governor heads up this list.
Council Post 2
Peachtree City, Ga.