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Is the TSPLOST Ballot Language Biased?

The preamble TSPLOST ballot question is being criticized for its possible bias. What do you think?

In less than a month, Georgians will head to the  to vote on all 14 U.S. House seatstwo Public Service Commission seats, state Senate and House seats, state and local judges, district attorneys, and various local elections.

They’ll also be taking on an issue that is, in fact, statewide, though from our viewpoint in Cobb, it seems like it only matters to those in metro Atlanta.

The Transportation Investment Act of 2010, or TSPLOST, splits up Georgia into 12 regions, each of which will be voting July 31 on whether to raise their sales tax by 1 percent for 10 years to fund a list of agreed upon transportation projects. 

How one region votes won’t affect the taxes of another; however, if one county in a region, like Cobb in metro Atlanta, votes it down, the others could push the tax through with enough yes votes.

If approved by the 10 metro Atlanta counties, the tax is expected to bring in about $7.22 billion over 10 years to go toward $8.5 billion in projects.

Of the amount raised, $6.14 billion will go to 157 regional projects, while the rest (15 percent) will be given to local governments based on population and road mileage. 

The wording for the TSPLOST that will appear on the ballot for every Georgia voter is: 

“Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight. 

Shall Cobb County's transportation system and the transportation network in this region and the state be improved by providing for a 1 percent special district transportation sales and use tax for the purpose of transportation projects and programs for a period of ten years?”

At , commission chairman candidate and retired East Cobb businessman Larry Savage took issue with the wording of the ballot question -- in particular the preamble, or the first sentence italicized above -- saying it broke objectivity and attempted to sway voters toward the tax. 

Incumbent Chairman Tim Lee and a spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the wording matches up with the proposed tax in a Marietta Daily Journal article.

But we want to know what you think.

Is the TSPLOST ballot language appropriate? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below.

TIC July 04, 2012 at 04:15 PM
@ Brian The point is that the ballot initiative language needs to be neutral. The statement “Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight." is definitely not neutral.
ACC-SEC Booster July 05, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Brian 2:34 am on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 {{"The studies are partially for the NW to Cobb County rail. And yes, that will reduce congestion WHEN population (both residential and commercial) gets more dense along the Cobb Parkway cooridor. Rail scales much better for population growth."}} So, in other words, the $689 million Midtown-Cumberland light rail line that is proposed to eventually run up Cobb Parkway between I-285 and Kennesaw is much more for economic development purposes than for traffic relief.
ACC-SEC Booster July 05, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Brian 2:34 am on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 {{"The problem with most of the detractors are that you don't give a balanced response."}} The detractors of the T-SPLOST don't have to give a "balanced" response as we just simply don't like it and are not voting for it. Also there are a lot more T-SPLOST detractors than supporters at this point, an imbalance that seems to be growing in favor of the T-SPLOST detractors as the more that people see of this thing, the more that they dislike it. http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/poll-support-tsplost-slipping-election/nPh7r/
Joe_Harris July 05, 2012 at 01:37 PM
It is important that you get informed on the issues before hand. The Regional Transportation Referendum is a comprehensive plan to solve the transportation needs of GA. With 48% of the money raised going towards roads and 52% going towards transit it is a referendum that seeks to solve the transportation issues in GA. These projects will aid in serving residents who travel on the roads and for the economic development in GA as well.
Mark A July 07, 2012 at 12:28 AM
This is different than the 400 toll. There is language written into this bill on multiple levels that prevents it from becoming a never-ending tax. - The 1% tax is ended, either at the end of 10 years or when the predetermined level (of 8.5bn) is reached, whichever comes FIRST - 85% of the funding has been pre-allocated for projects that are or will be shovel ready within the next 5 years. the other 15% will be shared between local governments within the region. The vast majority of our local business leaders realize how important this is, as well as most of our republican elected government officials, and are completely for it. When was the last time we had any kind of opportunity like this, ever?

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