Atlanta mayor predicts victory for Georgia transportation tax

by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is predicting that a proposed transportation tax in Georgia will pass when voters cast ballots on the measure at the end of the month.

The proposal to increase sales taxes by 1 cent in 12 regions across Georgia to pay for road and transit projects is being watched closely by transportation observers nationally because of its occurrence in strongly conservative state.

Polls have showed support for the transportation tax is dropping in the final weeks of campaigning for the proposal, even in the traditionally Democratic city of Atlanta.

But Reed said in a speech to the Atlanta Business League that was posted online by his office that the transportation tax would be approved at least in the region that includes his city.

“Take it from somebody who knows how to win when I’m behind…We’re gonna win this election,” Reed said in a reference to his 2009 campaign.

Reed, who is a prominent surrogate for President Obama, dismissed public polling about the tax. He said a poll conducted by supporters of the transportation tax showed the proposal was only trailing 41-38 percent.

“It’s an 800 sample poll, which is in the 3 percent margin of error, which means it’s basically neck-and-neck dead even,” he said.

But Reed acknowledged that support for the transportation tax in Georgia was on the decline.

“I’ll be honest. We didn’t want to show our poll because the poll that we took before that was better,” he said.

The Georgia transportation tax has become such a contentious issue that Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) clarified recently that a statement saying he planned to vote for the measure was not a formal endorsement.

Florida Rep. Sandy Adams (R) has also made the Georgia transportation tax an issue in her member-versus-member primary with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) in central Florida. Adams has criticized Mica for saying during a fundraising trip to Atlanta that the money generated by the transportation tax could help Georgia attract federal dollars.

Reed said in his speech that the attention from other places was another reason voters in his city should pass the transportation tax.

“It’s important that we pass this in Atlanta because people all over the world are watching to see what we’re doing in Atlanta,” he said. “Look in the New York Times, look in the Chicago [Sun]-Times, look in the Los Angeles Times, look in the Economist, look in Barron’s. They are looking to see whether Atlanta is going to step up and solve a problem in a bipartisan way that nobody else in the Southeast has been able to take on.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, has also supported the proposal.

If the transportation tax is approved by all 12 regions of Georgia that are scheduled to hold votes on it, supporters have said it will generate $18 billion for road and transit projects in the state.

Voters go to the polls on July 31.


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