Earlier this week, Metro Atlanta voters in 10 counties shot down the “Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax,” or T-SPLOST, by an overwhelming majority, 63% to 37%.
If passed, T-SPLOST would have created a 1% sales tax to help pay for an already determined $7.2 billion package of regional transportation projects, including $3.2 billion for transit plus another $1.1 billion in local projects.
The vote in Atlanta goes against the typical pattern over the last few years, which has seen referendums that would pay for transportation projects pass by a large majority. In 2011 alone, 22 out of 28, or 79%, of the initiatives on state and local ballots passed, many of which involved levying new taxes, according to the Center for Transportation Excellence. Meanwhile in 2010, 44 out of 57, or 77%, of the initiatives passed.
There were initial reports that the referendum was defeated by an opposition that raised a meager $15,000 compared to the $8 million sunk in by T-SPLOST advocates. However, an interesting article by the Christian Science Monitor dispelled that rumor and also spoke of an unusual alliance between local Tea Party and Sierra Club officials as well as the NAACP.
The article speaks about how this odd alliance defeated T-SPLOST and advocated for a “Plan B,” which would benefit the causes that all three groups advocate for.
With transportation referendums usually finding success, it’s interesting to wonder if the vote in Atlanta will start a new trend that sees the Tea Party, or any other local group of advocates for that matter, impacting votes in other states? What do you think?
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: New federal bill a win for America," here.