The T-SPLOST Penalties

T-SPLOST is the gift that keeps on giving. The law behind T-SPLOST carries a penalty for voting your conscious.

Editor's note: The following is an opinion piece from a Local Voices blogger and does not necessarily reflect the views of Patch.


Transportation Leadership Coalition Calls for Removal of Penalty in TIA / T-SPLOST
Penalty for voting “no” potentially adds hundreds of millions of dollars of expense to already cash-strapped local governments’ transportation funding.  

The voters have spoken and T-SPLOST is defeated. Unfortunately, the issues within the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 linger. Lawmakers had the temerity to build in two (2) penalties clauses in House Bill 277 (HB277), "Transportation Investment Act of 2010" (TIA / T-SPLOST). 

The first penalty was threatened before the referendum was placed on the ballot.  If local election officials did not place the referendum on the ballot, the community would suffer a 30 percent (30%) penalty in funding for local transportation projects. GDOT funding the county residents have already paid for in taxes.

Now that T-SPLOST is defeated, the second penalty kicks in. The law stipulates that if the referendum is voted it down, as it was in 9 of the 12 regions, those 9 regions now suffer a GDOT funding penalty.

“The coercive nature of this law is unthinkable. Our state leaders should not hold our own fuel taxes hostage because ‘the people’ voted down a bad referendum.  Nor should they incentivize voting for a terrible bill,” said Steve Brown of the Transportation Leadership Coalition and Fayette County Commissioner. “One penalty clause is bad enough, but two penalty clauses in legislation proves a sheer lack of faith in their own plan.” 

The law reads as follows starting on line 687:
“(d) 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.
“In the event the voters in a special district 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 10 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation for transportation projects and programs for the duration of the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax.”

“We need strong leadership under the Gold Dome with the fortitude to repeal this terrible law and replace it with a plan that uses common sense,” said Jack Staver, chairman, Transportation Leadership Coalition. “This is certainly not any democratic principle that I believe in. Voting your conscience should not come with any penalty.”

The Transportation Leadership Coalition calls on Governor Deal and the State legislature to not only revoke the penalty, but also repeal HB 277 in its entirety.

About Transportation Leadership Coalition, LLC
Transportation Leadership Coalition, LLC, is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that has come together in the belief that the State of Georgia can do a much better job of transportation planning than passing the largest tax increase in Georgia history and spending the money on politically-favored rail projects, trapping us into a tax situation that will continue forever. We believe that if Georgians understand the facts about the project list and the proposed management of the funds and projects, they will overwhelmingly reject it.  
Web: www.TrafficTruth.net
Facebook: Facebook.com/TrafficTruth
Twitter: @TrafficTruth

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Daniel F August 07, 2012 at 10:54 PM
oh you folks are ridiculous. cant handle being called out as a lobbyist. and now you're trying to claim that the SOS's new site is somehow a conspiracy because you didnt know about it. its been all over the news for weeks. remove the tin foil hats and read a little every now and again. OH, and try to vary up your reading sources a little, too. that will go a long long way.
Brian August 09, 2012 at 05:19 AM
It was mentioned.
Brian August 09, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Oh well, tough luck. I actually knew about this penalty on the day of voting and if you didn't, shame on you. Next time think a little harder and do a little more research before you vote. If you voted against, this is all your fault and I'm for leaving it all the way it is since that's what you voted for. You don't play if you don't pay. Money doesn't grow on trees. I think more projects should go to the places that voted in favor with higher numbers. That includes Atlanta, Dekalb, and the regions that approved the referendum. If others want more transportation funding, they need to pay their fair share, or at least show higher interest in the sales tax. Everyone wants their cake and to eat it too. You can't have both. Now, only the road projects that are really necessary will get funding and the DOT may be able to save up some fund for transit.
Richard Steiner August 09, 2012 at 07:24 AM
The fact that this T-SPLOST was allowed to contain this little feature says quite a lot about the vindictive nature of Georgia's government. No wonder so many people down here seem to mistrust it!
Brian August 10, 2012 at 08:35 PM
It's not vindictive at all. The fact of the matter is that there's a 68 billion backlog and not enough revenue generated to cover it. Everyone wants their project, and says it's urgent, but the fact of the matter is you can't have both that and low taxes, or the funds have to come from elsewhere. By requiring the local match, it handles three things: * Local governments are forced to prioritize their projects by putting their own funds behind it. This also gives them more local control over what gets done. Perhaps that pet road project just wasn't as important as everyone says it was, but something else was. Now when the local government puts their money behind the other project, it's clear what was more important. * Stretches the state's funds further because they only have to cover 70%. The downside is that bigger projects may get neglected, and projects with earmarks. However, considering these bigger projects sap the most funds, they really should be covered with a special tax anyway (plus probably some corporate fundraising like is happening with the beltline)


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