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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.

your own luck July 03, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Of course, the language is biased. Taking workers off one type of DOT job to work on another is not creating jobs. Reduced traffic congestion is not a fact, just another empty government promise. But why should the TSPLOST start playing fair now. They put this on the ballot in July instead of November, hoping for a low voter turnout so they could have it pass. They have a massive amount of money from who-knows-where to ram this campaign down our throats day and night. None of this matters to me. I am voting no and so will all my friends.
thrasher64 July 03, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Agree with the comment above...I am voting NO!! I am sick and tired of funding study after study to detemine what needs to be done. We have been payinf for traffic studies in Cobb and most of metro Atlanta since the mid 1980's. It hasn't done anything for us. Now, I just read that the GA DOT is repaying monies that the federal government gave the state to build the "outer-arc"...that was never built. Ga has a payment due this month of $32 million...wouldn't you think this fund would cover that payment as well for something that was never done. People...please be smart and vote no!
Bill July 03, 2012 at 02:02 PM
An immediate investigation needs to be made of Kemp's finances to determine if he was bribed.
Stephen Carlin July 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM
The money for the campaign is coming from private citizens and companies. Workers would not be pulled off one DOT job to work on another. Like most DOT jobs the contracts will be bid out to private contractors, hopefully creating more jobs. The money will not fund another study, it will go to the projects listed in the bill that our region put together. One aspect of the bill is that the projects on the list must be completed and cannot be substituted. If nothing is done, traffic will only get worse and companies will either move away from the region or not move here at all. (This is already happening) Is the list perfect, no. Will it help the region move forward, yes. If not this proposal, what do you suggest? Sitting on our hands hoping it improves is not an option.
JudyJ July 03, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I'm voting "no"on the ballet for this TSPLOST. NO MORE TAXES!!!!
TIC July 03, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Of course the ballot language is biased!! It makes the presumptuous assumption that jobs will be created and congestion will be relieved when there is no evidence that is a guaranteed outcome. The ballot language should not be a forum for the promotion or opposition of the ballot initiative. It should be neutral and unbiased. It should simply and succinctly state: Provides for the funding of transportation projects. Shall Cobb County's transportation system and the transportation network in this region and the state be funded by providing for a 1 percent special district transportation sales and use tax for transportation projects and programs for a period of ten years?
Diana Schwartz July 03, 2012 at 05:57 PM
it is the citizens oversight that I am concerned about....having worked for the Cobb DOT for the E/W connector project I saw the how too much cronyism played into decisions and our state suffers very much from too many favors being done....so I will vote NO especially since the Georgia Realtors is making Robocalls to support it
MW July 03, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Absolutely biased and I will vote NO!! Remember the 400 toll folks? If this tax is passed, it will never end!! Tim Lee just lost a vote as well.
TIC July 03, 2012 at 06:49 PM
SG68 Sorry Steve your response does not address the question of whether the ballot language is biased or not. You missed the point and went immediately to the canned TSPLOST supporters response. Pretty lame!!
John A Delves July 03, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Bias isn't the word for it. According to the preamble All the problems in pot holes, rapid transit, unemployment and medical situations will be cured and you'll be able to get from Kennesaw or even Acworth to Atlanta in 10 minutes. And its only going to cost you one red cent, a singular penny. Yeah right!!
Mark A July 03, 2012 at 07:50 PM
@TIC: there is no presumption that jobs will be created, in the short term for construction workers, nor in the long term. building more transportation infrastructure WILL help our city continue to grow in a healthy manner, regardless of what you say otherwise. Whether or not it will help congestion is more complicated, though by providing more transit, alternatives to sitting IN congestion will grow. @JudyJ: thanks for the explanation. @thrasher64: this clearly isn't a study, if you took a little time to look into it. the studies have already been done; the plans have been presented and are just waiting to be funded. the northern arc wasn't built because enough NIMBYs living up in the far northern metro didn't want the growth it would bring with it. (which has happened anyway) most of the projects being funded by the T-SPOST are the opposite of the nothern arc - they are transportation infrastructure infill, if you will, which is where we need it most, not as a road built in a rural area ready for more walmart strip malls and "arbor villas." (pretty good for a subdivision name eh? just pulled that right out from where the sun doesn't shine) finally, @yourownluck: lots of conjecture in that post! i would actually say that it has a worse chance of passing considering that they were trying to push it back but the tea party prevented it. see: www.fetchyournews.com/archives/15939-Postponed-TSPLOST-Proves-Divisive.html
John A Delves July 03, 2012 at 08:10 PM
The TV adds do in fact state more and more jobs, quicker trips to Atlantic station, repainted busses with Wi-Fi at every seat (even though the busses would be half full at most) it says more quality time and less time in traffic. If and thats a big IF the systems are built it will be ten years out and there will be little if any improvement on congestion. The most recent surveys and studies clearly state that drive time will not be improved with what they have currently on the books. Hang it up, redraw the plans and lets get some real relief.
One Eye July 04, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Certainly the preamble is bias, that's why it's there. The amount of pressure being put on businesses, politicians, government workers and citizens to get this tax passed must be brutal. Millions spent in advertizing for the good of the commuter. Bankers, lawyers, construction companies, developers and others who will gain are not contributing for the good of the commuter. They all want a slice of the $8.5B pie. By the way TIA does include more studies. TIA-GW-031 $95M and TIA-CL-002 $20M are studies for more rail This $115M will not change commute times, neither will $22.8M for bike lanes, and let's not forget $1.462Billion for construction to being MARTA into a state of good repair So Many reasons to vote NO.
Brian July 04, 2012 at 06:32 AM
No, not biased. It will reduce congestion (e.g. windy hill) and create jobs. I'm not sure what the problem is. It seems to me the people who think it is biased are the ones who would rather it be replaced with something negative because they personally don't support the legislation. I don't see how that is realistic.
Brian July 04, 2012 at 06:34 AM
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. Additionally, you have not talked about Windy HIll, etc. The problem with most of the detractors are that you don't give a balanced response.
your own luck July 04, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Your point on how DOT jobs are bid out is almost funny. There is so much cronyism in governmental contracts that those contracts never go to the best and lowest bidder, just to whoever has the best networking skills in the good-old-boy network. We lose money and every single contract because they could each be done better and cheaper by another contractor that is never considered.
your own luck July 04, 2012 at 01:27 PM
There is less conjecture in my post than the conjecture of the wording of the ballot. If you want to spend your money for more mismanagement of Marta and that wonderful Buckhead streetcar system and all these other pie-in-the sky solutions, go ahead. My vote is still no.
TIC July 04, 2012 at 04:10 PM
TIC @ Mark A If there is no presumption of job creation then why does the ballot language start with this statement? “Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight." and Even the ARC has indicated that there will be little, if any, congestion relief resulting from the TSPLOST.
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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