Jim Galloway points out in his Political Insider column for the AJC that the campaign to squeeze more money from Georgia’s taxpayers has hit another speedbump:
At the state Capitol, next year’s statewide round of regional sales tax votes is again in trouble.
At issue is legislation backed by Gov. Nathan Deal to shift the day of the vote from the July primary, when the electorate is likely to be overwhelmingly Republican, to the November general election.
Tea-party Republicans against the sales tax are opposed to changing the date, accusing supporters of trolling for voters churned out by President Barack Obama’s re-election bid. In a private session with Republican lawmakers from metro Atlanta, Deal this week quietly argued that presenting a tax initiative before the largest audience possible is in keeping with GOP principles, according to people who were in the room.
In addition to Deal’s backing, another good sign for supporters is that the legislation to change the date of the vote is sponsored by House Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of Alpharetta — the most powerful metro Atlanta lawmaker in the Legislature. So the Republican side of the transit sales tax vote may be close, but it’s likely to hold together.
Democrats in Fulton and DeKalb counties have supported next year’s transit sales tax vote — but only reluctantly, given that their voters have long been paying an extra penny sales tax to fund MARTA.
With tea party Republicans opposing the issue from the right, black lawmakers will be needed to make up the difference, if the date to shift the transit vote is to succeed.
State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said his members are angry enough over the Senate map to lock down on the transit issue. “I think our caucus would be inclined not to cooperate,” Jones said.
It is sad to see such an important issue bogged down in partisan politics but it is completely predictable. Georgia’s transportation problem isn’t caused by a lack of money it is caused by an incompetent political class. As I wrote in this post last year:
The political class say they could fix the problem if they only had more money. What the political class doesn’t understand is that the voters don’t blame infrastructure needs on a lack of money, the voters place the blame on the political class. Taxes in Georgia are the 16th highest in all of the United States while transportation spending is 49th out 50. See the problem?
But Georgia’s political class won’t accept the fact that they have been the problem. Instead, the politicians and lobbyists sat down together and once again hammered out an agreement acceptable to the politicans and lobbyists. And once again their solution is to raise taxes… billions and billions of dollars in taxes. That solution must have sounded awfully good in their echo chamber because a few months ago the political class unveiled this genius idea to great fanfair and they patted themselves on the back so hard that Atlanta’s chiropractors must have made a fortune.
But the people that will pay for this enormous tax increase are not impressed, they are hurting. They face 10% unemployment while the other 90% are still unsure of the future. More than 12,000 Georgia homes were foreclosed in July. IRA accounts and home prices are going down while grocery and gasoline prices are going up. To make matters worse their federal income taxes are going up in a few weeks and they will have even less money to spend. Georgia voters are hurting and they find it offensive that political insiders have decided taxpayers need to pay billions of dollars more to fund transportation improvements. While transportation improvements might bring jobs to Georgia in a decade or so, the state’s taxpayers would have to cough up billions of dollars that could have gone to pay their mortgage or put food on the table in the meantime.
The tax increase being pushed to solve Georgia’s very real transportation problem won’t solve anything because lack of money isn’t the problem. Lack of effective leadership is.