OPINION: TSPLOST rejection gives power to government

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The Transportation Investment Act – TSPLOST – was vehemently voted down by Georgia voters on Election Day, with an overwhelming majority disapproving of the 1 percent sales tax increase to fund an expanded MARTA system as well as improvements to roads around the metro Atlanta area and beyond.

Despite support from both parties, including Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, the bill will not go forth as business leaders, job creators and Atlanta’s sports teams had hoped.

The plans for improvement, however, will still go on.

Deal didn’t come out and say it before the vote – he didn’t want to jeopardize TSPLOST – but he has a plan in his back pocket to make necessary infrastructure improvements. Only this time, you won’t get to vote on it.

According to the AJC, Deal intends to “squeeze every penny” out of his very limited transportation budget in order to make the changes he sees fit.

This means the workers who come out to fix potholes, repair signs and change traffic lights may be busy elsewhere building roads.

On top of that, the governor’s office anticipates an 8 percent decrease in federal funding for transportation.

Perhaps we can rename Ga. 400 the Austerity Highway.

Deal will ask local leaders to submit their biggest transportation needs in the coming weeks, just as he did in preparation for the TSPLOST referendum.

This time, it comes with a severely limited budget and veto power for Deal.

Now, only the most important items will garner attention and “important” all comes from Deal’s perspective.

He has the power and discretion, and voters gave it to him on a silver platter.

Personally, I think Deal will do a fine job with what he’s been handed.

But the cost will be immense.

Voters afraid of the construction slowing down highways will still get construction. Voters afraid of the city’s planning ability need still worry. Those afraid of a tax increase will wish they paid an extra 1 percent for their T-shirt when they have to fix a flat tire due to a pothole.

It’s typical Georgia and there’s really nothing wrong with that. In this day and age, it’s hard to trust government with money, given their penchant for spending poorly.

But now voters have given the government power to fix problems citizens wouldn’t and what they get for their money won’t be nearly as effective or useful as TSPLOST aimed to be.

It’s that kind of dilemma that gives government a bad name. But when it comes time to complain, just remember who votes them into office.