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Group meets to promote T-SPLOST

Posted: June 12, 2012 - 11:22am  |  Updated: June 13, 2012 - 10:12am
Doug Callaway, the director of Georgia Transportation Alliance, spoke in place of Gov. Nathan Deal at a T-SPLOST breakfast meetng at West Lake Country Club. The governor was unable to fly to Augusta for the meeting because of the bad weather.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Doug Callaway, the director of Georgia Transportation Alliance, spoke in place of Gov. Nathan Deal at a T-SPLOST breakfast meetng at West Lake Country Club. The governor was unable to fly to Augusta for the meeting because of the bad weather.

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Though Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal was unable to attend a breakfast meeting in Martinez on Tuesday to discuss the 1-percent sales tax referendum for transportation, the issue still dominated conversation.

Deal was scheduled to talk to the crowd gathered at West Lake Country Club during a breakfast sponsored by the Georgia Transportation Alliance, which is an entity of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce established to promote the sales tax. Due to cloudy weather, the helicopter set to bring Deal to the Augusta area was grounded.

Instead, Georgia Transportation Alliance Executive Director Doug Callaway told the group of about 45 people that a penny sales tax increase would generate jobs, create safer roads and promote local control from elected officials.

“What we have here is the best economic development opportunity in Georgia’s history in the past 35 years,” he said.

The upcoming sales tax referendum will go before voters on July 31. Residents in each of 12 Georgia regions can approve or deny the T-SPLOST in their districts.

The Augusta area district is made up of 13 counties, including Columbia and Richmond.

In 10 years, officials expect that $840 million will be collected in the CSRA Region.

If approved, 75 percent of those funds would go to regional projects. The additional revenues would be reserved for local projects, Callaway said.

“This is more like a business transaction,” he said. “We know what we’re buying. This is a good deal.”

There are eight Columbia County transportation projects listed on the referendum, including the extension of Riverwatch Parkway to Washington Road and improving Robinson Avenue in Grovetown.

If passed, the referendum would provide $621 million during 10 years for the entire region. If the sales tax did not raise enough funding, the Georgia Department of Transportation would be required to finish uncompleted projects.

Callaway said he understands that asking to raise taxes during a recession could prove difficult, but the benefits outweigh the costs.

“Most people think transportation is a snoozer until we don’t have it,” he said.

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Comments (1)

Little Lamb

There was no one left to speak for me

Yes, the Georgia Transportation Alliance is organized, and their propaganda machine is well-oiled. If they lose one speaker, they've got a dozen waiting in the wings to lead the audience through the Powerpoint presentation.

But who will organize a forum to give the rest of the story?

The canard about creating jobs has been debunked over and over by the world's most brilliant economists. Yes, when the new tax is approved, we can see the men and women in hard hats on the side of the roads. We can see the asphalt machines laying down blacktop.

What we cannot see are the people doing jobs that never were created because the tax money was taken from us before we got to spend it on what we wanted. Those private sector jobs would have been legitimate because they would have arisen from the free market instead of from government coercion.

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