Georgia transportation tax voted down in 9 of 12 districts

by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper

A proposed transportation sales tax in Georgia was voted down in three-fourths of the regions across the state that held referendums on Tuesday.

Voters in Georgia cast ballots on a proposal to adopt a one-cent state sales tax increase via a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) in an election that was closely followed by transportation observers nationally.

The ballot measure was defeated in nine of 12 multicounty regions that put forth a predetermined list of road and transit projects, according to election returns from the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

The Georgia transportation tax proposal drew national attention because of its occurrence in a staunchly conservative state. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) encouraged Georgia voters to approve the ballot initiative during a fundraising trip to Atlanta earlier this month.

Mica was attacked for supporting the proposal in his neighboring state by his opponent in a contentious member-versus-member primary, Rep. Sandy Adams.

The proposal to raise sales taxes in Georgia to fund infrastructure improvements split traditional alliances in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Business groups that normally endorse GOP candidates vocally supported the proposal, while Tea Party groups rallied against the idea of raising taxes.

Similarly, Democratic Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a frequent surrogate for President Obama’s reelection campaign, clashed frequently with NAACP groups in the Atlanta area that argued that the measure did not include enough spending in traditionally African-American areas.

The reliably Democratic metro Atlanta area had been expected to provide a base of support for the transportation tax. However, the measure was defeated 63-37 percent in the 10-county region that included the Georgia capital city.

Supporters said the levy would have provided $18 billion for road and transit projects in the state, with $6.1 billion going to the metro Atlanta area.


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