I’ve been thinking about the TSPLOST referendum set for a vote on July 31. The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is one of those issues that aren’t attractive to most active folks who are just trying to make it through the day. Who can blame busy people? Junior’s little league and soccer games are a lot more interesting than say, where dollars are directed in a proposed sales tax.
Sure, most of the electorate kind of wakes up during presidential election seasons and are nudged by intense media coverage and political ads to get to the voting booths. But, when it comes to primaries, runoffs and referendums, most of the population takes a collective yawn. Translation: Low voter turnout.
So, who votes? It is the engaged who get out on Election Day and vote their conscience. The TSPLOST issue looks to be no different. Tea partiers and environmentalists alike are burning up talk radio, television, social networks and blogs with their opinions. Strange bedfellows indeed, but when examining how this phenomenon took place, it makes sense. Tea Party members are not too happy about what they perceive as government expansion and mere incompetence. Environmentalists do not like the amount of proposed roads and very few transit projects in the plan thus feeling that traffic congestion and pollution will continue to get worse.
Despite the “policy-nerd” angle of TSPLOST, all of us in Georgia ought to care about the July 31 vote. TSPLOST would fund a mix of major transportation projects throughout the state. After decades of unprecedented growth, projects like the expansion of Peachtree Parkway are much needed to relieve congestion.
Yes, it would be nice to have a rail line run from near the Chamblee MARTA station up in the middle of Peachtree Industrial on raised platforms to Peachtree Parkway and all the way to Georgia 400. The north MARTA rail line would be exceptional if it was already extended up to the Gwinnett CID area near Pleasant Hill and even farther north. I would love to never have to get in my car on a daily basis again, but those types of plans are not realistic given this area’s history and attitudes towards mass transit. Now that's serious dreaming.
Proponents say that TSPLOST is a good start, that “something needs to be done” about our bad traffic and lowered quality-of-life. Those who are for TSPLOST also say that not passing the measure jeopardizes the area’s possible future economic expansion. Opponents claim that the plan is a flat-out boondoggle and that the funds will be mismanaged thus furthering government chicanery.
Indeed no one likes taxes and government expanding with our hard-earned dollars. Nevertheless, I have been here for 23 years seeing very few projects keeping up with the metro area’s vast growth. Something needs to be done, but is TSPLOST the answer? I’m still reading up on the pros and cons and will most likely decide the very minute I get into the voting booth.