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.