Our great city is historically known for courage, inclusion and prosperity. It is time to earn these
stripes in present day.
We are passionate about our reputation – refusing to yield to another city or its potential. We
fiercely believe innovation, intellect and integrity drive our initiatives. On July 31, we have the
chance to prove it one more time.
Atlanta has had visionary leadership and an equally insightful citizenry since we anointed
ourselves, “Capital of the New South”. Today is no different. Challenges are on the horizon due
in large measure to unprecedented and unbridled growth. Large businesses and small
entrepreneurial ventures alike have come to the land of relatively mild seasons, reasonably
cheap real estate and competitive tax rates for gas, property and income. Our blessings,
including Hartsfield Jackson International - the world’s largest and busiest airport - and
university utopia with 7 major campuses in the region - are beginning to pale in comparison to
our burdens of dangerous traffic congestion, diminished air quality and decreasing health status.
Many are stressed – chronically out of work and incapacitated by serial blows to the family. Our
previous response to problems has typically included a willingness to work together to address
the dragons of adversity, regardless of personal sacrifice. Today is a new opportunity; we must
be willing to face our demons, relegating our fear of the imperfect to inconsequential status and
exercising the faith of generations before us. The Transportation Referendum is one sure way to
relieve congestion in the region and to reduce workforce anxiety, getting folks back to work.
Those who complain we cannot afford a sales tax of even just a penny have forgotten history.
Job creation is what helped get our country out of the Depression. The 157 projects so
desperately needed to ease Atlanta’s transportation issues have the added benefit of job
creation at a time when Atlanta residents need it most. And not just any jobs - an Atlanta
Regional Commission study says passing the Regional Transportation Referendum will support
200,000 well-paying jobs and generate $19 billion in new income.
Improving Atlanta’s traffic flow and transit opportunities will also bring better access to jobs.
According to the ARC study, the number of workers who could reach the job-rich Emory/Clifton
corridor within 45 minutes by bus or rail, for example, would increase by 700 percent. These
improvements would also decrease the time we waste in lost productivity on our clogged
Release the Fear; Renew the Faith. Vote “yes” vote for the Regional Transportation
For more information on the Regional Transportation Referendum and your early voting
options, please visit www.untieatlanta.com and click on the “Vote Yes” button.
State Sen. Vincent Fort
The T-SPLOST tax does not pass the fairness test. Atlanta, Fulton and Dekalb Counties residents already pay a 1% transportation tax-the MARTA sales tax. If the T-SPLOST tax passes Atlanta, Fulton, and Dekalb citizens will incur an increase from 1% to 2%. In effect they will be double taxed. Outlying counties will pay only 1%. Atlantans will see their sales tax go from 8 to 9 per cent, an increase of 12.5%. That rate is one of the highest in the country. That’s not fair.
Sales taxes are regressive. Billionaires pay the same rate as middle class families, senior citizens on fixed incomes, and the poor. The T-SPLOST tax will be applied to groceries and medicine. At the same time lobbyists for big corporations got an exemption for motor fuel when the T-SPLOST legislation was being considered under the Gold Dome. So, the trucking firms and corporations with large vehicle fleets whose trucks cause a disproportionate amount of damage to the roads will not pay into the T-SPLOST pot. All of this for a plan that will save only 2.5 minutes on the average round trip commute. That’s not fair.
The project list has a monumental flaw. While the Emory area gets a rail line, south DeKalb, after forty years of paying the MARTA 1% tax and fighting for a rail line, is getting a bus line. That’s not fair.
MARTA cannot use any of the T-SPLOST money it receives for operations. MARTA’s budget deficit is in operations. No other transit agency in the state functions under such an onerous restriction. In addition, MARTA’s T-SPLOST money will be funneled through the state of Georgia. This is an ominous arrangement for a state government with a history of directing money away from its intended use. Recently, the Deal administration sent $108 million intended for foreclosure prevention to a south Georgia economic development fund. That’s not fair.
If this T-SPLOST tax passes, African-American businesses will continue to be left out in the cold. A recent disparity commissioned by the Georgia Department of Transportation itself showed that African-American companies receive only 2.4% of GDOT’s federally funded contracts. Even worse, African-American companies receive only 1.1% per cent of state funded contracts. The study indicates that if all things were equal, African-American businesses would receive 22% of GDOT’s contracts. Eighty-five per cent of the T-SPLOST revenues will go to the state of Georgia and GDOT. GDOT cannot be trusted to do the right thing by African-American companies. That’s not fair.
A look at the history of the defeat of the first MARTA referendum is instructive. That first MARTA referendum failed in 1968 after the African-American community was excluded from the process. After that the civil rights community and African-American leaders were brought to the table and negotiated items for inclusion. As a result, a minority business and hiring program was implemented; a 15 cent fare was adopted and the Bankhead station was included. Therefore, the next time the MARTA referendum was on the ballot, it passed.
The July 31 T-SPLOST tax should be defeated and fairness and inclusion should be made a part of the process.