The Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Chorus of SPLOST Opponents

It works sometimes and is getting more popular with old white folks, kind of like Lawrence Welk music.

The first time I heard the Waste, Fraud, and Abuse (WF&A) Chorus was over 10 years ago. It was at a forum at the Cobb Civic Center on the educational SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) that was about to be voted on.

Then as now, Cobb public schools were under funded. There were over 500 portable classrooms. Then as now, our public schools are the biggest asset that our county has. In order to fund Cobb public schools, Cobb had resorted to a series of temporary sales taxes known as SPLOST.

On one side of the Civic Center stage were Johnny Isakson and the head of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. They were there to explain why the SPLOST should be approved. They read through a long list of improvements and projects and explained why they were needed and important. Then they explained why the method of funding, a sales tax, would be the best way to get the SPLOST passed.

On the other side of the stage were 2 anti-SPLOST guys who sort-of explained why the SPLOST should not be approved. They were very brief. They said there was WF&A in the SPLOST and that it should not be approved.

Johnny Isakson asked for some information about this WF&A.

The anti-SPLOST altos sang another chorus of WF&A. They said it was there but did not volunteer any particulars.

This verbal tennis match went back and forth. Johnny would plead for a morsel about the alleged WF&A, so that he could address it, or leave it out if it existed. If there was a penny of WF&A in the SPLOST, Johnny wanted to know so he could remove it. The anti-folks could not be moved to deal in facts and sang another chorus of  WF&A.

I thought that Johnny was on the verge of getting down on one knee and begging, James Brown style, think “Live at the Apollo” (Please, Please, Please….). Either Johnny had too much dignity or realized that the “anti-team” didn’t have anything and begging would do no good. After all, they were all Republicans on the stage and Johnny probably knew what they were thinking even if they weren’t letting any of their thoughts escape over their lips.

One can only speculate what the real reason was for singing the WFA song. Did they not like quality public education? Did they not like any tax? Were they just contrarians?

Their patron saint, Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, is one of the few articulate Tea Party-type people. He sings the WFA song because he says that "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Was Grover talking about dictatorial government, military government, theocratic government, or monarchial government? No, Saint Grover was talking about our democratically elected government, which most Americans like and have shed blood many times to defend.

My apologies to all the debate teams in Georgia who think that knowledge of the facts, use of logic, and nimbleness of mind are all that is need to win the debate. One day you may be defeated by the WF&A chorus which can sing on, and on, and on. Think of it as filibuster practice.

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Greg T February 20, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Mike, these shouting tactics are well know from labor unions. Did you see the news reports from Wisconsin just last year? I agree that they don't do much but Norquist isn't the main abuser of singing rights. That said,... At least the SPLOSTs seemed to have kept our school system honest. The SPLOST guidelines seems to have keep the projects funded as promised. Look at how the educational Lottery failed to increase the educational budget as promised. If we gave them a blanket tax increase, then I bet we'd get the standard loss of funds into the general "black hole" budget without getting results. It might be a pain to deal with but at least the SPLOST keeps corruption down. Give 'em time and maybe that won't work either. But for now, the SPLOST seems to have worked and I can bet a standard tax increase won't.
Frank February 20, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Heard Sweeney last evening at Sope Creek. He mentioned a recent Georgia State report on ESPLOST. Found the report: https://aysps.gsu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/Rpt%20250FIN%281%29.pdf ...no evidence that support for ESPLOST referenda varies with voter turnout or with the month in which a referenda is held. …our analysis of the most recent (2011) facility needs reports prepared by school districts suggests that overall financial need for facilities will increase by approximately 34 percent over the next five years, an increase that is being driven primarily by a substantial increase in reported need for renovation and modernization projects. …Between 1997 and 2011, Ed-SPLOST passage rates are 3% points greater in Nov. elections than Mar. elections …election timing has little impact on the outcome of ESPLOST referenda. …the reduced need for new school construction and additions is significantly overshadowed by the significant rise in projected need for renovations and modifications. …The substantial increase in need for renovation and modernization projects implies that overall facility needs are projected to increase 34% statewide. …the ESPLOST program has allowed school districts to fund their facility needs without substantially increasing their long-term debt levels, a finding that stands in stark contrast to school districts in the rest of the United States.


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