Wasting no time after the defeat Tuesday of the T-SPLOST vote in the 10-county Metro Atlanta region, State House Dist. 54 Rep. Edward Lindsey, who represents a sizeable portion of Buckhead, sent an e-newsletter to his constituents asking for their input and help in finding a new transportation solution.
The T-SPLOST was resoundingly defeated almost two to one in the Atlanta region with a vote of 67 percent of voters saying no and 37 percent voting yes. In Fulton County, however, the margin was much closer, with 51 percent voting no and 49 percent voting yes. As for city of Atlanta voters, 58 percent said yes to the T-SPLOST and 42 percent voted no.
The following was the e-newsletter Rep. Lindsey sent to his constituents the morning after the vote.
Dear Neighbors and Friends:
|Dist. 54 State Rep. Edward Lindsey|
Let me first start off by categorizing the main reasons the opponents gave me over the past few weeks for why they voted against the referendum and provide a few example quotes from several of them to illustrate their reasons for voting no. As you can see, there were a lot of different – and a few seemingly conflicting -- reasons given on the issues involved:
Transit – some said too much, others thought not enough.
“I will not vote for a tax increase, particularly because spending over 50% of the proposed revenue on mass transit in the world’s least dense city makes zero sense to me.”
“I oppose the T-SPLOST because its $6.2 billion spending package doesn't include enough rail.”
Fulton, Dekalb, the City of Atlanta, and MARTA – some said too much, others argued not enough.
“You can’t use those of us in Cobb and Gwinnett to bail out MARTA!”
“Atlanta is getting too much of our money already. You are not tricking us into getting any more!”
“When the State takes over Grady and the 10 county region starts paying for MARTA AND we get a reprieve from the 1% tax Fulton and DeKalb have been paying, then, and only then, I might [consider voting for the T-SPLOST].”
Government urging/coercing changes in people’s behavior – once again, either too much or not nearly enough.
“The project list is too heavily focused on sprawl-inducing road expansion, among other concerns, and will have a net negative impact from an environmental perspective.”
“The only real solution in the mega-cities is to reduce daily commute distances by living close to work and school and shopping locally.”
“The light-rail and streetcars, and Beltline, are all wasteful nonsense and leftist fantasies. People want the freedom to get there in their cars.”
Distrust in Government -- one critical area among dissenters that was universal.
“I will long remember this as it again burdens us for nothing but politicians’ pockets and their donors’ pockets.”
“T-SPLOST is horrid legislation, a 10-year boondoggle for contractors that will inevitably lead to further taxes, overruns, corrupt waste, and a failure to fix our roads and congestion.”
“This is a slush fund that will lead to huge waste and not help solve traffic issues.”
“I do not trust the politicians and their support of this tax and projects. I base this on the continued toll on GA 400 that was promised to stop but did not!”
“I am near destroyed each year at tax time-almost like I do not own my house—Fulton and Atlanta taxes are confiscatory—not one penny more—you are on the wrong side of this one.”
“[I] oppose this referendum because it is unfair, short-sighted, racist and deceitful.”
What now? Yesterday’s vote is now behind us. Many of us supported the T-SPLOST but tens of thousands more opposed it. Nevertheless, our transportation problems have not and will not magically disappear, and most people on both sides of yesterday’s vote understand this reality and the seriousness of the crisis we face.
Urban areas – even historically great ones like Metro Atlanta – are perpetually either in a period of growth and greater prosperity or steady decline. There is no standing still. We either attack our problems head on and make a better future for ourselves and our children today, or we sit back and watch our past successes slip away into the history books.
Metro Atlanta commuters have one of the worst commutes in the nation. This translates into more time in our cars and less time for work, home, and play. It also wastes on average in fuel for each of us over $900 per year sitting in traffic. Atlanta is ranked 91st out of 100 among major metro regions for access to transit. Major business prospects rank our transportation difficulties as one of their major concerns about relocating here, and our inability to address this problem will only further aggravate their concerns.
Make no mistake, we are not spendthrifts in Georgia. We rank 49thin the nation in overall per capita state spending, and have one of the lowest overall state tax rates in the country (45th). Over the past four years, we have further reduced our state spending by billions of dollars since the beginning of the Great Recession. These facts demonstrate our fiscal conservatism and are responsible for us having a very rare AAA state bond rating (higher than the federal government). Nevertheless, we must understand that while government cannot and should not ever be involved in everything, transportation – along with education and public safety – is an area where government needs to roll up its sleeves and get it right.
Therefore, there is no time to mourn or celebrate about what happened yesterday regardless of which side you were on. Both sides of the debate now need to focus on where we go from here.
You are my friends, neighbors and constituents and I need to hear from you. So start communicating. Today is for you to talk and for me and other policy makers to listen. How do we overcome the extreme mistrust that divides us and come together to fix this traffic noose around our necks?
Tomorrow, you and I must answer this question and start moving forward again together. I look forward to your suggestions.
State Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
Georgia House Majority Whip
The following is the contact information for Rep. Ed Lindsey:
State Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
3340 Peachtree Road, Suite 2100
Atlanta, GA 30326
Capitol Office: 404-656-5024
District Office: 404-926-4108